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Why I will never pursue cheating again behind-the-enemy-lines.blogspot.com
271 points by Panos  6 hours ago   205 comments top 52
onan_barbarian 5 hours ago 5 replies      
While there's much to be said in favor of more creative assignments that aren't minor variants of last year's assignments, the author has drawn the wrong conclusion from what happened.

22 cheats out of 108 is big - and the real proportion may have been even higher, given that it seemed like he caught only either blatant cheats or conscience-stricken/less brazen cheats (the latter category from when he acted people to own up). And it's a lot of work, and I've been around this process at a couple different institutions and seen how tough it is to see it through to an appropriate conclusion.

However, all this wasted time, and all this aggravation, wouldn't be necessary if all the other professors were doing it too. The only reason they're at 28/108 or higher is that people have obviously been getting away with almost anything.

The author has buckled (understandably) as being the only hard-ass in a environment where everyone else is getting away with it isn't feasible. From his perspective, I can see why he didn't fight this, but if he'd stuck it out for another year or two - and showed the next round of incoming classes just how ugly it will get - he'd have gone back to 'normal' cheating rates rather than 28/108.

The idea that you can always produce assignments that are 'unique flowers' that can't ever be duplicated year by year by cheating students has its own pitfalls. One problem is exactly that these assignments _are_ unique flowers, and might turn out to be systematically too hard or too easy or too vague. An advantage of the rather mechanical, "near-clone of last-years stuff" approach is that you can learn from last year's assignments and tune them onto the target. Faculty shouldn't be dumping the same material without fixes every year, but in many fields it's insane to expect that they have to prepare all new assessment material every year. They just don't get paid enough or get enough time for that.

nyustern 47 minutes ago 1 reply      
Hi Panos. I was actually a student in your class last fall semester. To alleviate any doubt you may have, the class was known as “Info Tech,” and you had two sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays (2-3:15, 3:30-4:45 pm) in KMEC.

Now I have a couple of problems with your post. Firstly, you attribute your lower evaluation rating of 5.3 for last fall semester solely to your lower tolerance of cheating. However, there is something very wrong with this logic. As you may (or evidently, may not) know, correlation does not imply causation. In other words, your lower overall rating was not necessarily due to your increased surveillance of plagiarism; it could have been due to other factors. As someone who was a student in your class, I can speak for myself and say that I did give you a low rating, and it was NOT because you punished the cheaters"it was far from it. To put it rather simply and bluntly, you were unkind (that's an extreme euphemism) out of the classroom. Sure, you had your favorites (my best friend being one of them) as most professors do. However, you had, what I perceived to be, an irrational disdain for some of your students, I being one of them. When I asked questions in class, you'd quietly giggle or give me a blank stare as if the question I asked was completely stupid (forgive me, I'm not technologically inclined), which of course discouraged me from participating in class. When I stayed after class to ask you questions I was too shy to ask in class, or to just discuss the subject material in greater depth, you'd answer in a very short, annoyed tone, as if you had more important things to do. My thank you's went unanswered. My smiles to you were not reciprocated. Sure, it sounds silly, but it was very clear you did not like me. And I had no idea why. Some people noticed, while others in the class also felt like you hated them for no apparent reason. It got to the point where we, as well as others who experienced better treatment, discussed it and concluded you were just racist. Now, I know you and many others reading this post probably think I'm just a pissed off student who didn't get the grade he wanted and is now bashing his teacher out of revenge. However, that's really not the case; I just figured I'd give you my honest opinion of you seeing as your perception of your students' mentality towards you is completely mistaken. I'll just quickly recount one experience that perfectly illustrates my overall experience with you. For the WiMax assignment (which is what your blog post is based on), after all the students had received your email demanding those who plagiarized to come in to talk to you, naturally everyone, even those who didn't cheat, felt very uneasy and worried. I, who collaborated with a friend on one small part of the assignment, got worried and came in to see you during office hours. When I arrived, there was one other student waiting in the seating area; she said you weren't in your office. So we waited for a good 30 minutes until you came strolling in. She then went in to speak with you. About 20 minutes passed until she emerged. You then walked out, saw me, and then said “I'll be back soon.” 50 MINUTES ELAPSED, and you finally returned. You were munching on a sandwich. As you walked by me, you mumbled “emergency.” So, almost two hours after I had come to your office, I finally was able to speak with you. We went in, you looked up my assignment, and then you said “there's no problem with your assignment; you're fine.” So I left. There was no apology.

Now, aside from me having a bad experience with you, what really irks me about your post is your complacence with cheating because it's not in your self-interest to pursue those who cheated. A true capitalist at heart, I guess. As a student who did not cheat, worked very hard, and still received a relatively low grade in your class, there's nothing more infuriating. Is it not your job as an educator to make sure those who put in the most effort and demonstrate the highest level of achievement are awarded grades accordingly? Is it not your job to make sure the playing field is level, especially at a school where there is such a high pressure to do well as a result of a strict grading curve policy? I guess you don't believe so. I mean, after all, you did give my friend, who consistently received a B average on assignments and exams throughout the semester, an overall grade of A (which he was very, very shocked by).

Anyway, that is not to say I did not learn a lot from your class. You were a great teacher inside the classroom. However, teaching evaluations don't just measure your ability to give good lectures; they are holistic--meaning, they also measure intangibles, such as the professor's willingness to help students, or his attitude. And that, Panos, is where you failed.

justin_vanw 4 hours ago  replies      
This professor is a huge part of the problem. He's a tenured professor saying "caring about cheating is counter productive", which to me says "I would rather have an easy life where I don't have to work hard than to protect the reputation of the institution I work for and ensure that students that graduate have learned something along the way".

He complains he had to work almost 44 hours (2 hours * 22 cheaters) and repeatedly moans and bitches about how much time that is, despite being spread over the course of an entire semester. I assume he's been in academia his whole career, because I can't remember a week where I've worked less than 50 hours.

My only solace is to know that this guy is a professor at a business school giving incredibly simplistic homework in excel, and his students are too stupid to do it. I can't think of a better punishment for someone who puts his leisure and student assessments above academic integrity than to have students like that.

Finally, what is the value of his class at all? If he can't tell his students are cheating without globally searching everything with this software, what are they supposedly learning? I would favor just eliminating this class; if you can't tell whether a student took it or not, they didn't learn anything. If you can't quantify the learning experience, it shouldn't carry credit.

This may be my strong bias as a Math major, but I know there is no way I could have cheated in almost any of my classes. If I had copied someone's homework, either the professor would have recognized it right away (since most professors actually knew and cared about the students in their class), or I would have failed all the exams. Do business school students not have exams that they can fail? If not, what are they supposedly learning? I know lots of business schools really drive their students hard to learn skills that they will use later. My opinion of NYU's business school (where the author of this is a tenured professor) is now so low that I will do a bit more diligence on MBA students with a degree from there as I review resumes and gauge job candidates in the future.

Edit: removed something criticized as a personal insult. This comment was modded up to 10, and at the time of this is now modded as 4. There should be some kind of meta-karma for controversial posts, since they inject lively debate instead of just attempting to game the system! That is my biased view anyway.

kristofferR 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I can't speak for college, but I cheated quite a lot in high school. I cheated "better" than the students in this post though, by copying sentence by sentence from various sources, rewriting it to make the cheating non-detectable, and reading over it to make sure the flow was good. It saved me at least 50% of the time compared to writing something from scratch, and the quality was good too.

Do I feel bad about it? Absolutely not.

It's imporant to consider why people cheat before you deem it bad. I cheated because the assignments were a waste of time. Plain and simple, a waste of time. It often felt like something the teacher gave us just so we shouldn't spend our evenings having fun. It wasn't something you were supposed to learn something from, it was something you were supposed to do because you were supposed to do it.

I should point out that that the Norwegian high school system is quite different from the American system. We couldn't choose our subjects, we had to take what the education law said we had to learn. Because of that I had a lot of subjects that I didn't have any interest in whatsoever, the only thing important was the grade I got. When you don't have any reason to study a subject other than to get a high number on a paper, it's natural to cheat. It's borderline impossible to be motivated to do something forced on you.

However, if the subject or course is your own choice, like the case with most university courses, cheating is something different. If the the only value the students get from a class is a grade and not relevant and valuable knowledge, I understand and sympathize with the cheaters.

bluehat 3 hours ago 0 replies      
A housemate of mine had a very creative solution: as a teacher he said that he would give anybody who cheated a 0 and that appeals could be filed with the Dean's office to prove they did not cheat. Most importantly, nobody would be told if they had been caught cheating, the zero would just show up on their grades.

The system plays on the student's mind: when they submit the first assignment and cheat their motivation to bother to make the minimal effort to dick around with the next one waivers. Most of the cheaters apparently dropped before the midterms. Any whiners with the balls to claim they had not cheated get to make their case to the Dean and voluntarily submit themselves to the school judicial process, but this was generally unneeded as apparently most cheaters dropped the class before midterms. No whiners in your office, and the reviews of you as a teacher are in before you fail them. Seems like it addresses all your problems.

reso 5 hours ago 6 replies      
Holy crap. They let so many people get away with copy-paste assignments, and they call themselves a postsecondary institution? That's fucking horrific. Where I'm from, a single sentence similar to one of your sources is marks deducted. A paragraph puts you on academic probation. Anything bigger is a bus-ticket home.
pge 4 hours ago 3 replies      
One of the problems here (which I've heard is common to most universities) is the use of student evaluations to evaluate professors. That creates a very unfortunate incentive for profs to try to please their students. Not all students value the best education; some just want a high grade for as little work as possible. Their evaluations are not going to be in line with the goals of the university. By using them as part of the prof evaluation, the school is encouraging behavior it almost certainly doesn't mean to.
commanda 38 minutes ago 1 reply      
I worked for 5 semesters as an undergrad teaching assistant in the CS department of my university. We had generally 1 to 2 cases of cheating per semester in classes of up to 150 students and ~10 assignments. We identified them using Moss[1] which we ran over all submitted assignments. This plagiarism rate now pales in comparison to the rate the OP has seen.

I wonder why there's such a huge gap between my experience and this professor's; undergrad vs. graduate school? CS vs. business school? Moss vs. Turnitin? Arizona vs. New York?

1. http://theory.stanford.edu/~aiken/moss/

shaggyfrog 6 hours ago 3 replies      
While I sympathize with the instructor and think he should be incentivized to fight cheating, I'm not pleased with the use of services like TurnItIn. Basically, the student gives someone some faceless company a license to whatever they create for perpetuity. Are these companies ever compelled to delete material on request? And who could audit that?
apinstein 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That was one disturbing article, on so many levels.

I cannot even imagine that someone caught doing this wouldn't be instantly suspended from school and possibly expelled. Why on earth are you in college if you want to cheat?

Even worse is a teacher that thinks it's "not worth pursuing".

That said, I do like his ideas of changing the assignments to deter cheating, but that doesn't make it right.

With such creativity to try to "fix" cheating, why wasn't one of his suggestions to have the teacher evaluations exclude scores from students that were caught cheating? This would stop the mis-aligned incentives that caused him to find a way to not report cheaters.

rkalla 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Fascinating read... sort of rings bells in my head along the lines of DRM/piracy cold war.

Reading the article and see the greater and greater extents the students were going through to cheat and the arms-race occurring between the teacher and the students, he leads you to his ultimate conclusion: the game has to change.

You can see the writing on the wall as you read through. Written "brain dump" style assignments, unless changed every year, aren't going to yield great results. Interactive, group-driven projects, competitions and discussions are all things that are much harder to plagiarize, are more fun and will (hopefully) teach the students more.

Not to mention more fun to teach.

I have a lot of teachers in my family (midwest) and none of them glow when they talk about teaching... they describe it like a war of attrition between the teachers, the students and the administration... like there is some clock ticking away slowly in the background and everyone is going through the motions just trying to outlast everyone else. I am talking about 2 separate generations here, like 40 years apart saying the same thing.

I can't imagine a shittier experience.

On the other hand, I am friends with a few (younger) teachers out here in the west that are rabid about how exciting their class is and how much fun they have.

The common denominator here is that the ones having a blast frequently do highly engaging and custom events in the classroom like re-enacting scenes from a play in drama on-the-fly or the poly-sci teacher segregated his class for a week while teaching about separate-but-equal.

Those are micro-examples, but what I'm getting at is that the teachers that recognize that the game has changed are still having a great time teaching.

Just like /cgi-bin shopping carts and "DO NOT HIT 'Purchase' TWICE!" buttons are dead on the web, so is the schooling experience of yester-year. If school wants to stay relevant, it has to compete with the allure of these extremely fast lives we live now. People cashing in $100,000,000 companies at 22 makes it tough to argue why your kid should stay in school until he's 73 so he can make $80k as an architect.

I wouldn't want to go to school now, a lot of things seem in flux. Notice how popular the "Why go to college?!" conversation is now adays?

I think in 10-15 years it will be much different/more effective with a different outlook though; that'll be a more engaging and compelling experience I hope.

rdl 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The takeaway of applying aikido-like redirection techniques (don't try to fight cheating head-on, but instead change the problems so cheating is meaningless) is a generally applicable life lesson.
wisty 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If universities faced de-registration for allowing plagiarism to go on, it would dry up in an instant. Create a national ombudsman. Take calls from disgruntled lecturers and the students who can't stand working 10X as hard as their peers to get the busy-work done. If the university can't clean itself up, it loses the right to profit from federal teaching loans.

Disgruntled students could abuse a complaints system, but there's tonnes of ways for them to create trouble already, so I doubt that's a big downside.

biot 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's a better solution: let students plagiarize all they want. When they are about to get their degree, do an en masse review of all incidents of plagiarism for the student and, if it's egregious and beyond doubt, retroactively fail them for everything. The university keeps their tuition dues and the student gets what they're due.
mikecane 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Welcome to the future where the stupid with "credentials" will be ruling you.

While you're busy doing actual work, building something, they're building networks of support in your employer's structure to enable them to rise.

So when you explain something to them and get a blank look or questions that make it clear they haven't understood anything, you'll know why.

But hey, they have a Business Degree. They win, not you.

Me, bitter? maniacal laughter

WorkInKarlsruhe 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
It is interesting that so many people think that Panos should have taken a hard line. Panos seems to have had few options (and I applaud the approach he ultimately chose for the reasons he gave), but that is only if you constrain yourself to the current system, which is grade based. Removing the grades from the system is an option, but few consider it, and there is much evidence from the people that have stopped using grades that it nets great results. My PhD experience, since it inherently was not graded, was a data point for myself --- everyday was a day of glory, pursuing my passions; and I could dive deeper into what a professor said, or ignore other things that I wasn't yet ready to hear, without a second thought about earning a grade. I learned a ton, more than at any period of my earlier life (now I learn, as in gaining understanding, more per day than during my PhD), and I attended some "good" schools. Using grades has poor psychological side effects, one of which is to groom people for employment, as opposed to preparing them to start companies; another is to drive self consciousness and fear of mistakes (which are horrible side effects to have associated with learning); competitiveness; and focus on pleasing others to the extent of deceiving them. I think many people in their 30s or 40s realize what a waste of life those years of earning grades was (but won't admit it) --- now they probably use the skills gained from passing tests more than they use the knowledge that they accumulated.
shriphani 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Catching copying is a O(n^2 * m) algorithm (n = no. of kids, m = length of assignment). Fuck that shit, no grad student or prof has that kind of time.

If by any chance you hire 2 TAs and if they got to catch plagiarism, they're cooked since they can't distribute work and have to go through each submission. No point in doing that.

And I am an Indian undergrad and I've seen this ethic cheating first hand - it is fucking disgusting and destroys the educational experience for everyone in the class because the honest guys are competing individually against the efforts of a 5 - 6 person team.

PROFESSORS and TAs : If you see a group of same-race people sitting together in an exam, fucking break that group up ASAP.

adamdecaf 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hopefully this is a similar view to other students here, but I would drop the class/change professors (even if that meant going into a larger class). Being in an environment where cheating is allowed is not somewhere that I want to be, much less learn in. I would feel like my honest work was just seen as equal to the cheaters'.
ascendant 5 hours ago 6 replies      
"Cheating" is a meaningless concept once you reach college in my opinion. Either students are learning or they're not. They're (usually) paying money to be there and the only applicable metric is if the skills they acquire while chasing down the degree are worth the money they or their parents spend. To that end, I was impressed with the OP's thoughts on deterring this sort of behavior in the future. Because really, the only person suffering from this behavior is the student. By altering the coursework to make the motives for copying virtually meaningless the professor's goal is accomplished with a minimum amount of effort.
aik 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
From the post: "My role is to educate and teach, not to enforce honest behavior. This is a university, not a kindergarten."

In my opinion this is one of the primary issues with a lot of teachers: I don't believe a teacher's job is specifically to narrowly teach the subject matter at hand, but more broadly teach the student whatever it takes to assist the student in succeeding in life, and especially within their given field. This would include cheating. Ignoring cheaters is contrary to this purpose.

drivebyacct2 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Good god you people are sure full of yourselves sometimes. You're telling me that if you put in extra effort in your daily jobs and got kicked in the ribs for it more than once... that you'd continue to do it and wouldn't be upset about it? Armchair ivory-towerists. I'm just aghast at the paragraphs of criticism I'm reading here for people that I can just imagine being upset with wasted and unappreciated effort.
espeed 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Don Norman has written on this. Here is his preamble to In Defense of Cheating:

"No, I am not in favor of deception, trickery, fraud, or swindle. What I wish to change are the curriculum and examination practices of our school systems that insist on unaided work, arbitrary learning of irrelevant and uninteresting facts. I'd like to move them toward an emphasis on understanding, on knowing how to get to an answer rather than knowing the answer, and on cooperation rather than isolation. Cheating that involves deceit is, of course wrong, but we should examine the school practices that lead to cheating: change the practices, and the deceit will naturally diminish."


brudgers 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Once the author decides that the academic standard allows copying and pasting, it ceases to become cheating - and he has joined those for whom the term "academic honesty" has lost all meaning. Seriously, when 44 hours over the course of a semester is too much work to uphold a minimum standard, the issue is not confined to students and the author has no moral high ground because they have abandoned the tough part of their job and are doing the grading equivalent of cutting and pasting.
erikpukinskis 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If I was him I would at least write a letter to the department of Academic Affairs (or whoever handles cheating) informing them of the way he was penalized for reporting students. They, if anyone, are the ones with an incentive to fix that problem.
juiceandjuice 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Why not have the grade of papers be multiplied by the inverse of the plagiarism score? For example, your first author would get a maximum of a 3% grade on his paper. Of course there are false positives to think of as well, but this would force the authors into more and more original content.

The very first assignment I did in college was my own, some code I wrote for a programming class. I turned it in, but my friend was in the class didn't do his assignment. I figured it was a basic enough problem and I really just turned in the assignment for him. We both got slaps on the wrist, but I never blatantly plagiarized again. I'm not saying I've never reused a sentence from another document on occasion, but usually it was either cited or more unconscious.

The big bummer in college was exactly what he talks about though: the propensity for students in some sort of group to help each other out. The fraternities and athletes were always the worst offenders. For the general eds, everyone in class knew that so and so had a copy of this professors test which he barely changes from year to year, or this fraternity keeps all their papers from previous classes categorized(!) so other members can use them, and that sort of stuff.

grandalf 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why not just use impromptu in-class essays/tests for 100% of the grade? Anything that allows students to paraphrase references, etc., is not really a test of understanding.
atarian 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems like the professor tried to personally deal the problem on a case-by-case basis; this will always end up being more work for him in the long run. What he should have done is just immediately hand the case off to the proper authorities and let them decide the case. However, I'm assuming from the post that the council at this particular college is considered to be a last resort option; other colleges have committees that are dedicated to dealing with cheating and it's standard procedure amongst faculty to forward all cases to them immediately.
aneth 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I did not cheat in school. I wanted to prove things to myself and to learn. However the basic premise of opposition to cheating here is incorrect:

"habitual plagiarism ... can have very serious consequences in their professional life"

This is something academics believe because it justifies their policies, but it isn't true, at least in entrepreneurship. Those who can "cheat" without violating the trust of those who matter or facing legal consequences are those who succeed. Those who play by all the rules bitch on HN about "stolen ideas" and cutthroat business practices instead of synthesizing ideas and looking for unfair advantages.

Cheat if it suits you, learn what you want to learn, get the credentials you need, cover your ass, and build the life you want. Life is not a your grade, but neither is it the opinion of a professor over what you should be doing with your time - copying or writing.

Herring 6 hours ago 2 replies      
>I was also lectured by some senior professors that "I should change my assignments from year to year". (Thanks for the suggestion, buddy, this is exactly how I detected the cheaters.)

what? how can there be cheaters to detect if the assignment is completely different?

haberman 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Having to write an essay for which copy/paste from the internet could be construed as a valid answer sounds mind-numbingly boring. Your job is to express the same information as your sources, but with different wording.
Dove 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I am completely aghast.

This professor is considering only what path will avoid the most hassle and difficulty for himself. Any duty he might owe honest students, fellow faculty, or even society at large doesn't seem to figure into it. He seems to see no problem at all with effectively selling high grades to cheaters, so long as there's no risk or hassle involved for him.

And because he gets to use a term like Nash Equilibrium to describe it, he's not even ashamed.

Profoundly dishonorable.

soundsop 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds like the course marking scheme is broken.

In my engineering courses (both as a student and TA), assignments were worth very little, or sometimes not handed in at all, and were instead a tool for the student to learn the coursework. Marks were largely based on quizzes, midterms and finals (usually worth 80 to 90% of the course grade). It's not an ideal solution, as there are skills that cannot be tested in these conditions, but it eliminates the need to spend time on detecting cheating on assignments. Of course, it is important to prevent cheating during examinations, but this is a much more tractable problem.

pnathan 5 hours ago 1 reply      
When I TA'd, I took a hard line on any cheating I detected. Basically it was a 2-strikes approach.

I didn't use turnitin or other mechanisms. I figure, if someone is smart enough to cheat well enough that it's not detectable, it's okay to pass that person. It's not "great", but it's not unleashing a total disaster onto the world.

The cheating I detected was usually because those students were moronic. I am not talking "slightly different". I'm talking, copy-pasted from prior semesters, with 1 modification: the name. Or copy-pasted from the other person in the class with 1 modification.

mmahemoff 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"Instead of the usual evaluations that were in the region of 6.0 to 6.5 out of seven, this time my ratings went down by almost a point: 5.3 out of 7.0."

Way to bias ratings. Students caught cheating should certainly not be rating the professor who caught them. I won't say "problem solved", but that would make a fine start.

emmettnicholas 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"One interesting observation: Almost all cheating happened within ethnic lines. Koreans copy from Koreans. Indians from Indians. Greeks from Greeks. Jews from Jews. Chinese from Chinese."

...or maybe it's just that people copy from their friends?

r4vik 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I think an easy solution would be to immediately show the TurnItIn results to the student when they submit. They are then given a chance to resubmit if it picks up plagiarism. The first time they'll probably keep tweaking the content until it passes but they'll soon get bored of it (and the time it consumes) and start writing their own papers.
cantbecool 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I am surprised no one brought up the pervasive cheating within ethnic lines. From my anecdotal evidence, just graduating from a private school in Philadelphia in IT, the majority of ethnic students would simply pass assignments and essays to one another from term to term. It was extremely demoralizing seeing these students at graduation standing for the academic honors, e.g., cum laude and magna cum laude, and get applauded for their fake accolades.

Additionally, has anyone thought that people cheat because of financial reasons? I know at my alma mater people were given a grant up to 15 thousand, half of tuition, if they maintained a grade point average over a 3.0.

ja27 3 hours ago 0 replies      
In grad school, a couple of times I proctored exams for my major professor. Every time I caught students cheating (copying off of note sheets or old exams from other students), collected the "cheat sheets" and explained the situation to my major professor. Not once were those pursued and I think all the students passed the classes. Pretty frustrating.
extension 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Jeez, is it so hard to do your own damn homework? Maybe the prof should just let things get messy until it becomes more work to cheat than to just do it legit and maybe actually get some value out of school.

But I guess school is now just a status thing that you do to satisfy other people instead of yourself (or so everyone says), so why should anyone care about doing it honestly?

akronim 5 hours ago 2 replies      
isn't this why you have closed book exams?
deckardt 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Great tale, and I like the approaches he suggest at the end that make cheating impractical. Hopefully, as a tenured professor, he can serve the likely storm of pressure he will get from his university for publishing this.
dlokshin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A little tangential, but I think this post outlines another argument for the "higher education bubble." Is 40k a year worth learning how to effectively plagiarize?
jsskate 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know where this guy works but there was a zero tolerance policy on cheating and plagiarism were I went to university. Heck my CEGEP had the same policy too. There's an independent review board to investigate then discipline students so that professors and TAs can focus on teaching. Students automatically fail the course and are required to take an ethics course the next semester and retake the course regardless if it was core or an elective.

EDIT: I just read where he teaches. I'm still surprised there's no policy or that the policy isn't enforced.

derrida 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"I decided that it makes no sense to fight it. The incentive structures simply do not reward such efforts. The Nash equilibrium is to let the students cheat and "perform well"; in exchange, I get back great evaluations." (The Professor) As an honest student this is a cowardly response and makes me loose faith in the entire system. Who gives a shit about a degree if it's just a piece of paper. I was never there to tick the box on my way to a middle class lifestyle anyway.
phamilton 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I have had many courses in which the answers to the homework are given prior to the homework assignment. The assignment is large enough that copying the answers would take about an hour. Most students feel that if they are going to spend that much time faking it, they might as well do the assignment. Furthermore, biweekly quizzes clearly highlight a lack of understanding. Not doing the homework (or just copying the answers) is a rough road to go down, when averages midterm scores are in the low 60s (and yet some kids ace the midterm). Those who copy the homework do badly in the course. It's just that simple.
layzphil 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have taught (as a PhD student) similar material and this is no surprise to me. But then, is it realistic to expect undergrads to turn out a thoughtful piece on LTE and 4G comms? If it is a technical comparison, sure, but even if you don't plagiarise your sources what are you really doing? You're going to read some articles on the internet, form an opinion, and rewrite that stuff in your own words. So long as they are learning, what's the difference?
teyc 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Make the papers public and have a dob in the cheaters hotline. Perhaps even offer tools and software. The game then changes because the school will be forced to be transparent.
kahawe 5 hours ago 6 replies      
I don't know what it is with you US Americans and "cheating"... but it seems to be a very touchy subject in your culture, almost like violating someone's honors. I never understood that.
awegawef 5 hours ago 1 reply      
With prompt given for the assignment, I'm hardly surprised by the amount of plagiarism.
vessenes 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Panos, I wrote you a long response on your blog.
djcapelis 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I wish this was true, but it actually also hurts all the students who aren't cheating in the course since their classmates are receiving better marks than them while spending less time. Which tragically creates a strong incentive for other students to join in. In some courses this can be an epidemic and you have a significant fraction of the students cheating and getting better marks than the students who are actually learning.

When curves come in to play it means the honest students are getting lower scores than the dishonest ones even though they are learning more. This can suck in a lot of fields where grades matter.

The refrain that it only hurts the cheater needs to stop being something people say when this topic comes up. It is a serious problem that is undermining learning in our classrooms and it needs to be addressed, it is not a victimless act. It certainly does hurt the cheater, but it doesn't only hurt the cheater.

Don't fix it for the sake of the dishonest students, fix it for the sake of the honest ones.

graupel 4 hours ago 3 replies      
This is fascinating, aside from one huge, glaring bit of stupidness on the authors part - highlighted here:

"One interesting observation: Almost all cheating happened within ethnic lines. Koreans copy from Koreans. Indians from Indians. Greeks from Greeks. Jews from Jews. Chinese from Chinese."


This would appear to show some form of bias, or at least a lack of cultural understanding by Panos Ipeirotis, who I'm assuming is of Greek origin based on his name.

Firebug lead developer now working on Web dev tools at Google google.com
137 points by tbassetto  8 hours ago   55 comments top 12
nestlequ1k 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I switched to Chrome web dev tools about 5 months ago and haven't had a reason to launch Firefox since.

There's still stuff I miss about firebug, but overall the chrome web tools are a gigantic improvement in speed, reliability, and functionality. Firebug feels like a dinosaur in comparison.

Capturing the web developer mindshare is actually a huge win for Google, because it means the quality of web apps is going to be highest for Chrome end-users, with subtle but visible bugs in other browsers due to the simple fact that developers will spend less time in these browsers.

scelerat 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope this doesn't portend bad things for Firebug down the road; it's nice to have a variety of tools, but kudos to Mr. Barton for making the move and, more importantly, providing a devastatingly useful and revolutionary web development tool.

Front end web development changed seemingly overnight for the better when Firebug came on the scene.

gary4gar 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I am Sold. I am switching to WebDev tools. If anyone needs an intro, here is video of session done during Google I/O 2011

-> Google I/O 2011: Chrome Dev Tools Reloaded

Btw, Paul Irish is co-presenter ;)

ootachi 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Mozilla is pretty much treading water at this point. It's only a matter of time before the inevitable drowning.
grandalf 5 hours ago 1 reply      
feature request:

figure out some convention to do console output that doesn't break on browsers that don't support the console. Maybe something like:

//->console.log("hello world")

plasma 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You can use 'Firebug Lite' with Chrome (http://getfirebug.com/), as well as IE/other browsers.

I use Chrome's built in dev tools but also Firebug Lite, its handy to see Ajax queries (and console debug logs) on the actual page instead of a separate Chrome window.

inportb 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, it boils down to money, and Google's got it. I'd call that a major win for Google ;)
dr_win 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmm, interesting. I guess, now it's Joe's chance to elevate Firebug yet again :-)


trungonnews 6 hours ago 1 reply      
this is pretty much game over for firebug...
kimkk 6 hours ago 0 replies      
That is the way, Google grows.
camworld 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't think it's about money. I feel that Mozilla has made a strategic mistake in switching to a very rapid release schedule. My clients keep saying things like, "Firefox 5? Didn't Firefox 4 just come out like two months ago?"

I haven't even bothered with Firefox 5 yet. It's not worth my time to work inside yet another browser. At this rate, I might as well just dump Firefox and work inside Chrome.

Mozilla needs to slow the hell down and let Extension developers catch up.

omouse 1 hour ago 0 replies      

I used to love firefox but since firefox4 and the awesome speed of Chrome...it's been hard not to turn away from it ;/

Is anyone there? nytimes.com
23 points by chaosmachine  3 hours ago   12 comments top 8
momotomo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Avoiding giving a reply or simply being disorganised when it comes to following up with responses isn't tech specific.

Penpals who take six months to reply, people who screen their calls, giving a polite reply of "yes" when really you're never going to show up - it happens.

With the examples the author gave in a professional context - if you require a reply on something, set the expectation rather than assume someone communicates the same way as you.

If you're cold soliciting people over email for love or profit it should be with the understanding that it doesn't necessary honour the other party to reply.

necubi 1 hour ago 2 replies      
This is largely a technical problem resulting from Email's unpredictability and lack of any receipt verification mechanism. While this is true of other non-real time communication mediums (like snail mail), that doesn't mean we shouldn't try solving it.

Improved spam detection increases the likelihood that an email will actually reach its intended recipient. In the 7 years I've been using gmail I've seen exactly one false positive (although there is some bias here as I've long since stopped checking my spam folder). But such technology has been slow to filter out to the less technically inclined ISPs and mail providers.

As far as actual verification, there are several ways to achieve this now. A popular technique is embedding a 1x1 pixel image with a unique id in its url. Unfortunately this is frequently abused by spammers looking for verification that an email address is good, so many email readers block images by default.

Any real solution is going to require some sort of trust mechanism or better make the procedure opt-in. Still, anything would improve upon the current situation where letters go silently into the void

Hisoka 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
I do think the author has a valid point. Yes, sure you don't have to respond immediately but taking too long to respond isn't very kind as well. You gotta have some emotional intelligence. In fact, this sort of thing happens beyond email.. it's also about phone calls that don't get returned, and failing to "ping" friends regularly.

I know we live in a busy world, but you gotta have some insight into what ticks other people.

Ignoring people for too long leads to bitterness as you wonders why he/she has forgotten about you. It also leads to a negative view of the world. You start to think it's dog eat dog.. It's true.. we don't respond right away unless it's a sex text. We don't really care about others unless there's an orgasm in stake, or at least an indirect path to an orgasm.

ForrestN 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I for one am glad for the flexibility afforded by e-mail ambiguity. In a situation in which one person wants to go out to lunch and the other doesn't, is the better outcome that the first either confrontationally declines or reluctantly accepts the request?

In the art world, the protocol for asking for a show at someone's gallery is that you invite them over to your studio for a "studio visit." The purpose of the visit, to see if they want to give you a show, is known to both parties, but never explicitly stated. If the dealer doesn't want to give you a show, then you just had a nice visit where they gave you some feedback about your work. If they do want a show, obviously there's no problem. But the perils of saying "Can I have a show?" and getting rejected are avoided by the introduction of ambiguity. You don't know anything about why they've rejected you (if it's you or them) and the relationship isn't strained by anything too outright.

As annoying as it is sometimes, I think there are definitely cases in which ignoring email can be a graceful alternative to difficult options.

sorbus 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> e-mails to travel with the speed of photosynthesis

Am I the only person who found this metaphor a bit jarring? It seems very much like the author trying to make himself sound more cultured or intelligent, unless he's trying to say something like "travel with no outward signs of progress."

astrofinch 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"I certainly felt ignored when a young editorial assistant at a magazine asked me to send important information to her but never acknowledged receipt of same. I waited 72 hours for her reply, and then sent the information again with a note saying, “Just re-sending in case you didn't receive.” When another 48 hours elapsed without a reply from her, I resent the information again, this time appended, “I'm resending this because I have no way of knowing whether or not you received it.”"

This guy isn't too well-versed with technology is he.

Cyph0n 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
Isn't that what emails are all about? They're meant to take time to reply to, at least that's what I think. Unless the recipient of your email is sitting on his/her PC 24/7, there is the chance that you'll have to wait for him/her to reply, and that may take some time.

Don't want to wait at all? Use IM, or even social networking.

clobber 1 hour ago 0 replies      
From the article: "Consciously or unconsciously we think of our interlocutors as disposable or replaceable."

Interesting, this must be how interviewers or HR types feel after they never get back to you.

Node Knockout registration open nodeknockout.com
5 points by samdk  21 minutes ago   1 comment top
pvsnp 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
The new site just looks annoying and confusing.
Sync G+ posts to Identica/Twitter/FB by simply sharing a post with this G+ bot sagg.im
10 points by fizz972  1 hour ago   3 comments top 2
patrickod 50 minutes ago 1 reply      
As much as I like the idea of only having to post something in one place to have it shared with people I think part of the reason I really like Google+ is because all of the content that is being shared there is original. Buzz was all about integrating your other feeds. G+ is doing very well by making people post original items.
kuahyeow 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
I am wary of bots after Wave. The vibe of a conversation went downhill really quick.

I question too the utility of duplicating your posts twice. It's really hard to get it right without multiple overlapping groups of people seeing the same content twice. Plus the resulting fragmentation of discussion as well.

Replication, atomicity and order in distributed systems github.com
96 points by strlen  9 hours ago   4 comments top 2
cema 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A good review, thanks!
fleitz 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Why not use the bitcoin protocol, longest block chain wins, missing transactions are just replayed. Use difficulty settings to tweak the transaction latency. It even solves the split brain issue, which ever brain has the longest block chain wins when the network is unified.
Bottle: Single-File Python Web Framework bottlepy.org
163 points by dpatru  11 hours ago   40 comments top 10
drats 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The disqus comments on the page are entirely correct: it should come standard with python (or something like it). I've used it a few times and it's just elegant and would match "batteries included" perfectly.
puzzler314 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks exactly like Itty (since 2009, updated as recently as 2011): https://github.com/toastdriven/itty

The only differences I see are minor name changes. I'll have to compare the source code.

EDIT: It appears to be an unrelated codebase with a lot of improvements (for example, proper cookie support). Looks like I'll need to be updating my projects.

reustle 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I've used this quite a bit and love it. My favorite part is that there are no dependencies (that aren't in the standard library).
zyfo 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone who've used web.py and Bottle (for a real project) and care to comment on the pros/cons of both? I'm quite familiar with web.py but not so much with Bottle.
heydenberk 10 hours ago 4 replies      
It seems like being single-file is mostly gimmick. What are the drawbacks to creating a folder with an __init__.py and a handful of readably-long files?
ajray 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is exactly what I was looking for. Got up this morning and it was #1 on HN. This is why I <3 HN. Thanks for solving my problems again :-)
rednaught 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Bottle has been around for a while and is great. But is there something new or about to reach proverbial "1.0" status?

For those interested in single-file frameworks, there is also Mojolicious in Perl and Fat-Free in PHP.

gabi38 10 hours ago 5 replies      
How does it compare with flask?
defroost 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems to me to be another micro web framework influenced heavily by Sinatra.
OzzyB 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I ♥ Bottle!
Refuse to be terrorized (Bruce Schneier) wired.com
182 points by iwwr  12 hours ago   74 comments top 12
acabal 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Good article but it'll never be read by those who need to read it most.

Unfortunately terror has now been institutionalized. The TSA is a massive bureaucracy that generates jobs and cash flow. It's not something that will ever be dismantled overnight. That's not even mentioning the political convenience it provides: with it politicians can keep us afraid, thus getting our votes when they promise to protect us.

It goes deeper than just fear of terrorism though. Having spent the last few years traveling the world and seeing how other people live, it's always shocking to return to the States to see how afraid everybody is of even the smallest things. Fear seems to have become a centerpiece in the American psyche, and long before 9/11. We even raise our kids to be afraid (see some of the vitriolic responses freerangekids.wordpress.com gets in response to advice like, "It's OK to let your kid ride the bus alone"). Fear of mundane things giving you cancer; existential fear about the economy, which many of us don't even understand and as individuals, have no control over; fear of walking the streets alone at night; fear of getting sick if we don't use antibacterial soap after each bathroom trip. Fear of someone spiking your Tylenol. Uncontrollable fear of a country across the ocean maybe having WMD's.

No, fear of terrorism is just the latest in a laundry list of things Americans have scared themselves with. Until we learn to control that basic fear response, the TSA will still be around and people will still be scared of sitting next to a dark-skinned man kneeling in prayer.

cstavish 10 hours ago 3 replies      
It amazes me that people freak out when they see "Muslim-looking" people on flights. The politically-correct response is along the lines of "OMG That is highly prejudicial!", but that's irrelevant. From a purely practical perspective, why would a terrorist leader send an attacker whom many Americans immediately view as "suspicious", when he could send someone who appears more "normal"?

On another note, people these days still puff out their chests and say the terrorists couldn't change our way of life. Good one. Another fallacious line of reasoning is that we can destroy terrorism by military action alone. Tell that to the teenage boy who just lost his family to an errant US bomb in his Afghan village and now has a massive amount of pent up rage, and nothing to lose.

If the conditions are right, terrorism can always regenerate itself. The way to fight it is to alter the conditions. To do this we must understand why people hate America. Contrary to popular belief, it's not that we are secular or free. Osama bin Laden himself asked that if he wanted to attack secular, democratic states, why didn't he attack Sweden? I'm obviously not condoning terrorism, but the key to beating it is understanding it on at least a basic level. Unfortunately, our leaders in the past 10 years have been more inclined to drop bombs than to know the enemy.

edit: I'm not saying military action is inappropriate. It clearly has been effective in many cases.

jamesbkel 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This has always been one of my biggest issues with "counter-terrorism". If the costs of fighting terrorism outweigh the damage that a genuine terrorist group could inflict... who really wins?

As a US citizen, I don't doubt that some of our spending has directly stopped particular terrorist plots. However, my point for the past ~10 years has been: they [terrorists] are tricking us into burning money chasing them around the world. If we had invested a fraction of this to take care of people who have suffered from non-terrorist causes we would result with a net benefit.[1]

I want to reiterate that there undoubtedly threats to be addressed, but sometime I wish that politicians (and a fair amount of the general population) would leave the whack-a-mole terrorism game alone, take their (our) coin home and find something better to do.

Admit, this is an assumption. But I don't think it's a huge leap.

thyrsus 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Five years latter, the U.S. has institutionalized a terrified attitude, at least with respect to air travel. At this point, the only thing that might compel me to put up with the useless, degrading, indignity of U.S. air travel would be a dire family obligation - like a funeral - which I couldn't meet in any other way. I am appalled that my fellow citizens demand this abasement.
Cyph0n 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A satisfying read indeed. Schneier hits the target right in the middle. I feel exactly the same way about this terrorism. Even though I personally haven't been to the US, what I see in the news, in movies and on television is enough to tell me that Americans are indeed living in fear.

However, I do not blame the American (and other) people for hating us (Muslims). I blame the media. I blame the politicians. I blame the terrorists. We may also disagree on the definition of a terrorist. I may tell you that an Afghan militant defending his country and his people against invasion by shooting at American soldiers (this differs from taking innocent lives) is not a terrorist, but a soldier, regardless of his nationality, or who the soldiers he's shooting at are.

But in the end, people, Muslims or otherwise, who shamelessly attack, bomb or torture innocent people, people who did them no harm, nor presented any threat to them, nor attacked their country or their people, are terrorists.

Indeed, what is happening today in America and in several other countries regarding escalating security measures and incessant leakage of threats is simply the result of governments wanting to control their people (see "1984") by using the media to their advantage.

I mean, seriously, think of the guy who tried to detonate a bomb located in his shoe whilst in an plane. Why didn't he go to the toilet and detonate it there? The terrorists I know from the media aren't that ignorant.

gegegege 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This is years old, maybe submitter should mention that.
RocknRolla 5 hours ago 1 reply      
<quote> "The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.</quote>

I know this is not going to be popular because Schneier is a crypto/security God and all but I call B.S. on the above quote.

If you would have given any of the 9/11 terrorists or UBL a button and told them they could wipe out the U.S. and everyone in it by just pressing the button how quickly do you think they would do it? Or do you think they'd say "Sorry, no-can-do. There won't be anyone left to terrorize."?

Their goal is not to terrorize/scare people. Their goal is the total destruction of anyone or anybody that stands in the way of their total domination.

bediger 10 hours ago 0 replies      
A thousand up votes! Keep calm, and carry on.
wtvanhest 8 hours ago 5 replies      
There are roughly 20 Million Flights world wide per year.

During the period of those 5 incidents, there were over 220,000 flights. (4 days)

Yes, it would suck to be on one of those flights, but your chances are extremely low. 00.0023% of flights are impacted. You have less than a 1 in 43,000 chance of being on one of those flights.

But... if you are on one of those flights where there is suspected terrorist activity, at a rate of 1 actual attack attempt per year (I couldn't get an exact number, but I bet that is pretty close) Your chances of being killed quickly become much, much higher at 1 in 365.

I know I will be downgraded because people don't agree with me, but the reality is that terrorism is real, and if I am on a plane, I'd rather them be safe then sorry.

Doing so makes attacks much less likely to succeed which will help reduce attacks.

Eliezer 8 hours ago 2 replies      
But if we refuse to be terrorized, the terrorists have already won!
michaelabe 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I am really amazed how the whole world wants to ignore one simple fact that until now costs us a lot of lives: (9/11 and many other terrorist attacks all over the world) There is a group of people (mainy Muslim)that want all: Jews, Americans, and "free" world countries to perish or convert the Islam (and if not pay special "Muslim" taxes) This is not a conspiracy and this message is played on national TV in many Muslim countries http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GvsNFWRbM0&feature=share what pisses me off is that most of the word ignores this completely and blames Israel and the US for it because of our foreign policy. What scares me most is that it seems to me like were back to the 1930s when Hitler was talking about killing most non Aryan races and the whole world not caring and doing anything about it.
So wake the fuck up and realize that we do have a problem in hand, and it's not a joke many people have died and will continue dying terrorism is a world problem not only American, there were dozens of terrorist attacks outside the US, sorry even more then the US.
Any ways wake up people and stop being scared of saying the obvious.
huhtenberg 9 hours ago 9 replies      
That's all great, but consider a situation.

I get on the plane and sit next to a guy who avoids eye contact, does not respond to Hi and then starts praying, seemingly detached from the reality. Shall I just ignore this and refuse to be terrorized?

I will tell you more. As someone who rode on a subway train that was next to the one blown up in a terrorist attack, I will walk out of a coffee shop if I see a person leaving a bag behind and stepping outside. I did that when I was single and I certainly still do it now when I have two kids. If there is a sliver of probability that I can be killed due to my inaction, I will act and I will do my best to avoid that risk. If it takes de-boarding someone from a plane, so be it.

H5ai - a beautified Apache index larsjung.de
13 points by pablospr  3 hours ago   3 comments top
sikhnerd 51 minutes ago 2 replies      
Link to source and some screenshots, since the site is quite slow right now: https://github.com/lrsjng/h5ai
Hadoop & Startups techcrunch.com
54 points by drusenko  8 hours ago   2 comments top 2
acangiano 2 hours ago 0 replies      
For those living in Toronto and interested in Hadoop, we are trying to bootstrap a local Hadoop User Group here: http://www.meetup.com/TorontoHUG/
Facial recognition false positives lead to license revocations in Massachusetts boston.com
53 points by ilamont  9 hours ago   22 comments top 9
yaakov34 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The article tries to make it sound like this is some kind of a computer-age cyber-problem, but in fact, any face recognition technology, including the Mk. 1 human eyeball and brain, is going to have a certain false positive rate. Actually, the article says the pictures are already reviewed by humans before it's decided there is a match.

The real problem, in fact the only problem in my opinion, is the "guilty until proven innocent" approach of the state. They are sending letters which state that the license has already been revoked! If they sent a letter saying "we strongly suspect fraud, you must verify your identity in 30 days", I would not have a problem with that, as long as they have a decent match.

Instead, we get talk about how "driving is a privilege". Guess what - working for the state is also a privilege, and people who abuse the citizens who pay their salaries should lose it.

a-priori 6 hours ago 1 reply      
At 1500 suspension letters per day, 365 days per year (optimistic...), 1000 false positives per year is a 0.1% false positive rate.

I think that's a fairly good rate if a false positive only meant that a human had to verify a person's identity, but not low enough to warrant automatically suspending a person's license.

m3koval 7 hours ago 2 replies      
If I am not misinterpreting the article and, "his driving privileges were returned...after 10 days..." is the time between receiving the letter and having his name cleared, I am impressed that the government moved that quickly. Most of the interactions I've witnessed with the DMV, albiet not nearly as serious, have taken an order of magnitude longer to clear up.

That being said, it is ridiculous for the state to revoke a drivers license with no warning. This situation could have been avoided if the state merely gave the alleged fraudsters a few weeks to present the required documentation before revoking the license.

Overall, I found this to be the most concerning quote in the article:

“A driver's license is not a matter of civil rights. It's not a right. It's a privilege," she said. “Yes, it is an inconvenience [to have to clear your name], but lots of people have their identities stolen, and that's an inconvenience, too."

With this mentality, who knows what future "inconveniences" await Pennsylvania residents in the name of security...

paulgerhardt 7 hours ago 1 reply      
So while it appears Massachusetts does collect fingerprints, from this article it would seem that the software does not or is not very effective at cross referencing them with photographs.

Similar case from 1903: http://www.futilitycloset.com/2011/04/29/mistaken-identity-2...
which "became a strong argument in favor of the new science of fingerprinting."

cheez 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> An antiterrorism computerized facial recognition system that scans a database of millions of state driver's license images had picked his as a possible fraud.

> Last year, the facial recognition system picked out more than 1,000 cases that resulted in State Police investigations, officials say.

That's a lotta terrorists.

ldar15 6 hours ago 1 reply      
FTA: Registrar Rachel Krapielian said that protecting the public far outweighs any inconvenience Gass or anyone else might experience.

“A driver's license is not a matter of civil rights. It's not a right. It's a privilege,'' she said. “Yes, it is an inconvenience [to have to clear your name], but lots of people have their identities stolen, and that's an inconvenience, too."

This person is why I'm a libertarian.

joe_the_user 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem is similar blood tests. Even a seeming small false-positive rate can result in massive disruption to the lives of many people. Run a "99.9%" accurate test on a million-person database - if a false-positive isn't just an annoyance but screws up a person's life, you've screwed up the lives of 1,000 people.
parrisj 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Part of this problem is their using software L1. L1 has terrible performance but their EULA states that you can't refer to them by name in Academic papers. So their always refereed to anonymously as the"Commercial Competitor".
derleth 5 hours ago 1 reply      
For a nontrivial number of people, saying that "driving is a privilege, not a right" is equivalent to saying "being able to remain employed is a privilege, not a right".

What's the right way to deal with this?

Netflix is Down and I Just Released My Netflix App stitchyapp.posterous.com
8 points by stitchy  2 hours ago   5 comments top 3
tantalor 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is it possible the DVD + USPS delivery method is more reliable than streaming? Too bad I cancelled that account for streaming only.
xtacy 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Off topic, but why are all posterous websites so sluggish when I try to scroll? I am running Chrome 12. Is it just me?
mlntn 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
Way to break Netflix... I was just going to watch something. ;)
Datasheets.com - new parts search engine datasheets.com
3 points by nherbw  1 hour ago   3 comments top 2
ajju 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
They seem to be disabling the back button, on purpose or by accident, which is very irritating.
nherbw 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Anyone tried this out yet?
Why Quora is in trouble attackofdesign.com
115 points by sgdesign  15 hours ago   75 comments top 33
cletus 14 hours ago 10 replies      
You can count me as one of the long-term Quora detractors. To me, it's a good example of the "bubble effect". Everyone in the Valley thinks its huge because everyone in the Valley uses it.

No one outside the Valley does (figuratively speaking).

It's a thin social layer on what's just a Q&A site not that different to Yahoo Answers, which I guess is fine but I just don't see it going mainstream.

As an aside, I've always said--and I maintain--that I don't see Stackoverflow/StackExchange going mainstream either.

Ultimately I see the end for both companies being a Google or Facebook buyout in the $X00,000,000 range, which I think says more about the overall market than it does their inherent value.

EDIT: let me add regarding SO/SE that I think the SO model works great for programmers but my point--which I didn't put very well--was that I don't see that same tagging/voting/self-organizing model necessarily translating that well to other verticals. I guess time will tell.

localhost3000 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I was once a heavy quora user. Here's what drove me away (I do still use it but I no longer 'hang out' there): the overwhelming pretentiousness and self-righteousness of many within the very early core userbase who, because I was in that early group, dominate my feed (don't know if they dominate for others...). You can only read so many "what does it feel like to be dumb" or "if i went to Harvard how should I respond to 'where did you go to school?' without offending the asker?" without rolling your eyes and writing the entire thing off as a circle-jerk for the self-appointed hipster elite. These people suck and unfortunately quora has rewarded them with upvotes and therefore influence. Otherwise I think the site is great and useful for very niche/obscure questions that google cannot answer well.
edanm 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's what I don't understand about Quora - at the end of the day, all of the arguments in favor of why Quora is so good, especially arguments put forward by Robert Scoble, boil down to one thing: lots of interesting people post to it.

Now, I'm not saying that's necessarily bad or easy to pull off - hell, Hacker News itself is the same, in that I only use it because of the great people here.

I just don't see how you can take it mainstream.

It's not so much that no one outside of the valley uses it, it's that, if people outside of the Valley DID use it, no one would like it anymore!

That's not a good position to be in.

nc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Quora is extremely useful. It eliminates a lot of my visits to about.com style websites and replaces them with structured q&a. It also adds a layer of transparency (you can see who has answered a question, their 'credentials') and get a feel for who to trust.

It's quick and the answers to any questions so far have been insightful. I fail to see how structuring all q&a dispersed over the web to a centralised site is a bad thing?

In addition Quora facilitates learning over time for topics and even individual questions I am interested. I absolutely love the follow topic & question features, i've learned a lot about topics I am passionate about using them. Information I probably would never have been able to find in any other way prior to Quora.

gojomo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've found Quora very useful. I love its visual/functional design.

However, the vulcan/robot approach to quality, and hints of a esoteric level of people and rules that really controls things, are off-putting. They limit its mass-appeal, as a place to participate.

Maybe that's not a problem. Maybe there's a niche for the 'elite-university' of question-answering, creating evergreen quality content and attracting a large read-only audience across many years, and any number of Google ranking updates. That's a different outcome from some of the Quora-triumphalism that accompanied its early popularity... but still a good outcome, for the web and for Quora's users/employees/investors.

knowtheory 12 hours ago 1 reply      
While i agree with the thrust of the post, the argument is severely undercut at the point where the author writes that Quora's problem is that it doesn't solve a problem, and then immediately turns to observation that twitter doesn't solve a problem either, and is wildly successful.

This is not cogent writing :P

joe_the_user 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this leaves the question-space STILL open.

I've never tried Quora and never would use it because I never use my main Facebook profile for anything else (I like Facebook, I hate Facebook's idea of non-privacy).

Stackoverflow once was useful but has basically died as far as I can tell (answer quality plummeting as users become addicted to easy-low-quality-answers-as-a-way-quick-Karma and thus let any hard question sink fast).

Googling to answer technical questions has gotten less rewarding as well as Google becomes less literal and thus prevents me from doing fine-tuned filter when I don't immediately get the right answer.

So what could appear in the answer domain? (and think this domain is still quite large).

ivanzhao 9 hours ago 0 replies      
His reference article (on Evaporative Cooling Effect) is a lot more enlightening:
malandrew 6 hours ago 0 replies      
My comments that I posted in the comments on the original blog post, slightly modified:


Quora most certainly does solve a problem: “Tacit knowledge extraction”

I have a question, whose answer may not exist anywhere in written form (e.g. no reference book, no wiki, no manual, no whitepaper, etc.). The answers do however lie in the heads of people, very very smart knowledgable people. Quora has created a system whereby a user with a question can pose it in a forum where those with the answer will see it and feel compelled to answer.

Quora is performing tacit knowledge extraction at the macro-level. However, there is no reason that this same problem can't be solve at the institutional level as well, using only a slightly modified version of the solution the Quora team has built.


On the issue of badges and traditional game mechanics, I wholly disagree that Quora needs such features, and I would even argue that it would be a worse product if it did have them. For the most part, the game mechanics you are referring to are almost all behavioral game mechanics, whereby intrinsic motivation is replaced with extrinsic motivation in the form of totems and tokens (badges, mayorships, in-game money, etc.).

When you apply extrinsic motivators where intrinsic motivators already exist, you get three results:
(1) An increase in short-to-medium term user engagement, but this comes as a cost of
(2) Losing intrinsic motivators that a difficult to regain once lost, and
(3) A possible loss of contribution quality, because users are now engineering their answers for upvotes and not focusing on answering the original question. Oftentimes these two will be aligned, but not always.

The correct type of game mechanics to apply (and that for the most part are already part of Quora in some ways already) are combinatorial game mechanics that don't reward individual achievement, but collaboration and cooperation. These types of game mechanics are far more subtle than the behavioral game mechanics used by companies like Zynga.

StackOverflow is unique in that it is largely based on combinatorial game mechanics, with the use of some behavioral game mechanics to guide the user into exploring the webapp. Notice that I said exploring. As webapps get larger, you need to establish “exploration patterns” to the app to make sure the user gets the most out of the app. SO uses badges for this. Many other sites use single-use tooltips such as those that can be created with guiders.js. Here they are using extrinsic motivators for a behavior that will only be performed once (exploration by definition is only done once), thus there is no product risk from usurping/deadening the value of intrinsic motivators using extrinsic motivators.

There is however one exception on SO where they use behavioral game mechanics to solicit user behavior that should be performed in perpetuity, which is to hand out depth of knowledge badges for contributions to certain topic verticals. There is a serious possible long-term consequence of these badges for tasks in perpetuity, but it may be a long-time before we find out whether the risks outweighs the benefit.

For example, SO hands out bronze, silver and gold badges for topic X. This is replacing an intrinsic motivation (helping your fellow developer with the problem; reciprocal altruism) with an extrinsic motivator (bronze/silver/gold badges. A possible consequence of this approach is that some people (how many as a percentage, we don't yet know) may only actively participate in the site until they achieve the badges they want in that vertical as part of their reputation. So the first risk here is the possibility of a drop in topic engagement after the user has achieved all totems for that topic.

And example of a better game mechanic, that is typically viewed as traditional game mechanic, but has been implemented in Quora as a combinatorial game mechanic is the notion of a topic leaderboard titled “Top Answerers”, which I believe is upvote weighted.. First, the upvote weighting makes sure that quality of answers is more important than quantity of answers for a topic in determining who is ranked most highly. Second, there are no notifications alerting top answerers that they've become top answerers. It's not like the user wakes up one day, checks Quora and sees a feed item saying “Congratulations, you are now a top answerer for the Javascript topic.” Doing so would shift the focus from intrinsic motivation via reciprocal altruism to extrinsic motivation via the fostering of competition among top answerers.

Finally, Quora's product management approach of only displaying just enough quantity/quality metrics to the end users prevents misplaced emphasis on competition and PeopleRank. The only places you really see competition metrics in the interface are upvotes on an answer and number of answers in the top answerers leaderboard.

I could even be argued that Quora may want to experiment with not listing these two numbers at all. For example, Hacker News recently did away with displaying the number of upvotes alongside topic comments. This removal of competition metric from the interface effectively turns a mixed behavioral/combinatorial game mechanic to a pure combinatorial game mechanic. I forget the exact thread where Paul Graham discussed the benefits of removing upvote count from comments, but the fact that his change has stuck is proof that a combinatorial approach that is subtle and may not look like game mechanics at all to the untrained eye is better than a behavioral approach that rewards undesirable behavior.


Ultimately, Quora is fun for people who would rank highly on high-need-for-cognition. That's it's target audience. It does not and would not want to modify the product to target people with a low need for cognition, since doing so would reduce contribution quality and drive away the users who have a high need for cognition and contribute heavily.



The only point in this article that I agree with is the “echo chamber” effect and feed utility problem. However, feed utility is not a problem unique to Quora. Twitter and Facebook both suffer from feed utility issues due to signal to noise ratios in the feeds. This is one of the biggest problems in social network design and each social network, by virtue of catering to a different audience with different needs will have to find their own solutions to improve signal-to-noise. I know, I'm working on a startup with a feed with a very focused task and all feed improvements revolve around serving the needs associated with that one task. (FYI We're not in stealth, since if you know me personally, I'll gladly share it with you, but I'm not about to post our product design on the web just yet.)

On this last problem it may be interesting to have two feeds. A feed of all the stuff I like and find interesting via follows of people and topics. This is the serendipitous, consumption focused feed. And a second feed that includes all the topics that the user contributes most often to. This second feed should help solid contributors get back to contributing instead of having their time sucked up with consumption of all sorts of useful and useless knowledge.

Hovertruck 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting. I always felt Quora was overdesigned, as if I couldn't move my mouse anywhere on the page without triggering some sort of hover effect. Drove me absolutely crazy.
vaksel 13 hours ago 0 replies      
i think the biggest problem with Quora is that it was hyped up to be more than it was. It's just a Q&A site, and it was hyped up as being a Facebook killer.
tzury 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Few questions:

1. Does the author know that Quora traffic is decreasing dramatically (a fact which states a web service "in trouble") or just he assumes that "since I left, all others left with me"?

2. What does he means "Not solving a problem"?

If I want to know how many NICs I can stuff into a single server machine [1] or how to build a 10Gbs wire-tapping monster[2] or why programmers so fanatical about their text editors[3] where will I go and ask those questions? attackofdesign.com? shall I start gambling which of the 4 sites of stack exchange is the best site to get the answer and not getting it migrated 5 times before getting and answer?

BTW, the first two questions were real world problems I solved and quora helped me a lot.

I simply cannot stand this anymore, smart people are spending time and energy to build things we can use for free, and we, instead of thanking them, talking about their "troubles" and giving them advice.

The easiest thing for a _blogger_ to do is to write where did Bill Gates gone wrong, or why is Google failing going social time after time (hey, people, until two weeks ago, this was the mainstream state-of-mind).

I do not believe in critics, I do not read critics before I buy a boo, watch a film or go to a restaurant, and ever since I did so, I failed less, while by the time I was relying on critics I failed much more. The fact is simple, can you mister opinion do any better? Can you? If you can't, stay still, if you can, stay still and do instead of talk. But, no, those who cannot compose a jingle for the local radio station write music reviews, and people who cannot make a decent omelet blogs about restaurants and those who cannot do start-ups blogs about start-ups.

Michael Arrington build an empire by writing about startups, yet when he gave it a shot with that tablet and the Singaporean company , he failed at the spot one would not expect him to fail at (he's a lawyer, mind you).

I am not saying there is no room for blogging about start-ups, all I am saying is that I would rather be on the side of those who _make_ the news, rather than the side of those who _write_ the news, let alone those who _read_ news.

If ideas are dime a dozen, advice is dime a dozen kilograms.

[1] http://www.quora.com/How-many-ethernet-ports-can-I-build-int...

[2] http://www.quora.com/How-can-I-build-a-high-performance-serv...

[3] http://www.quora.com/Why-are-most-programmers-so-fanatical-a...

statictype 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Correct me if I'm wrong but Quora seems to be useful only to those who have been invited to join it. It's not really a public-facing site in the way every other Q&A site on the internet is.

So I'd say it's even less useful than Yahoo Answers. I can't remember even once, googling for a question and getting a Quora page in the search results.

suking 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Most VCs are sheep and follow trends. They see stuff being pimped out on TC hardcore and think they're going to miss out. I think QWIKI & QUORA are 2 big example of that. Hopefully they prove me wrong and are wildly successful, but not looking good...
faruken 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I've tried to use Quora couple of times but I really don't see the point of it. If you want to ask a programming question, you get an answer on Stackoverflow immediately and Stackoverflow is designed specifically for that purpose whereas Quora's design isn't good enough for programming questions. It doesn't even do syntax highlighting. For me, Quora is one step away from a forum.
ForrestN 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm agnostic about the longterm prospects for Quora, but this article is not compelling at all.

"It's not the next big thing anymore" is silly and could be applied to anything other than Google+ (according to this analyst). Web startups aren't zero-sum and there's no evidence provided that Google+ has harmed Quora's momentum. They aren't even direct competitors.

"It doesn't solve a problem" is a strange objection. Quora attempts to solve a few problems, perhaps most prominently that some questions that you want answered can't be answered with a google search. A lot of the other functionality is built around facilitating their solution to that problem. They foster a community and social features in order to keep quality answerers engaged.

The last two are just ways of saying "I don't like this" and don't amount to threats to Quora's success. They have a serious brand, and this guy likes playful brands. It's not interesting to him because he hasn't added interesting topics to follow, and that's Quora's fault because they haven't suggested those topics to him. The subset of users who insist on playful brands and who just can't think of topics their interested in isn't big enough to bring down a company like Quora.

The suggestion, to turn Quora into Hacker News, would basically mean forgoing their purpose and vision in a last-ditch effort to leverage the community they've built. Not a smart idea (or a likely one).

ivankirigin 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"twitter solves no problem"

I stopped reading there. staying informed is a real problem. It is just one twitter solves. Entertainment is not a problem but a desire, and another one that twitter satisfies. Quora works for both as well. I trust what I read on quora

kungfu71186 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think SE can go mainstream. I don't say SO because that's more for programmers. I see lots of activity in say photography and cooking. I can see lots of academia using SE as well, just look at all the theory related exchanges. I think the biggest downfall of Quora is the login and sign up process. I don't even want to deal with it because SE makes it so easy. I can sign in with my google account and then go to another exchange and click a few times and sign up there. I automatically get 100 points because i am signed up on SO with over 100 points. This makes it so i don't even have to start all the way over. I just think because it's so easy to sign up and login on SE, that it could be mainstream. You can use any login service.

Only problem with SE are the rules. I know why they are there, but for a new user it can be intimidating. A lot of people may not ask a question because they are afraid they will get "bullied", "trolled" or whatever you want to call it.

melvinmt 8 hours ago 0 replies      
To me, Quora felt like a big blog site, where nitty people spent hours of writing nitty comments and the 'question' just set the topic. Quora was never that interesting as a pure Q&A site. If you ask practical, unsexy questions you will get a hard time getting answers from anyone - because writing blog-like comments for trivial questions isn't worth it.

I think that G+ has the advantage over Quora in that it skips the whole Q&A dance but still allows these early adopters to do what they really care about: to be heard.

robjohnson 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I see a lot of comments about how Quora is only providing value or attracting users in the valley and while I hate anecdotal premises that are used as support for arguments, I live in the midwest and over three quarters of my friends use Quora on a daily basis.

I don't see it as a direct competitor to Facebook or Stackoverflow, but instead as filling a niche unto itself. I can't speak to the value it adds for all subject matter categories, but for the ones that I am most interested in (startup entrepreneurship, technology, mathematics) it has some incredibly thought-provoking questions and answers.

The biggest value that I get from Quora is not when I am looking for a specific answer, but the serendipity of scrolling through my favorite topics to find questions that I wouldn't have thought to ask.

If Quora died, it would be a sad day for the world's intellectual curious.

skrebbel 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Sorry to nitpick, but is this guy really making a point that a site with a bland design ( = no rounded corners and gradients) isn't fun to use?
code_duck 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Nobody in the circles I talk in has ever mentioned Quora. Ever. Google+ has come up about 50 times a day since last week, so I don't think it's quite that it's replaced Quora.
bauchidgw 10 hours ago 0 replies      
http://trends.google.com/websites?q=quora.com&geo=all... well, the hype is over - now they must show if they are great - or not. but a startup that does not have hard times is probably not trying hard enough
jetz 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Quora is hardly going mainstream because mainstream cannot ask the questions that Quora elite would answer. Not that they don't have the ability but they don't care! If it does ever it'll be called Yahoo Answers.
jaredmck 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing that annoys me most about Quora is how many of the questions are leading questions.
beaumartinez 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the biggest problem Quora faces is that it's invite-only. A question-and-answer website needs as many users as possible to provide as many answers as possible.
hammock 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I find myself asking, who is this guy? Honestly who ever thought that Quora was a facebook killer - or anything more than another Yahoo answers with different userbase? Also, who makes a thesis, then gives examples to show that their thesis is wrong (the twitter example etc)? The whole thing seems incredible and contrived.
barce 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The author wrote, 'Facebook solves the problem of how to stay in contact with your 250 "friends". Twitter solves... well, ok, Twitter didn't solve any real problem, but has still grown to become extremely useful.'

How can something be useful and not solve a problem? Twitter is such a great soapbox for complaints that many companies have felt the need to create twitter accounts and respond directly to their customers. Personally, I can find last minute tickets to a baseball game easier on Twitter than on Craigslist.

markkat 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I never really 'got it'. Having to frame discussions in the form of a question seemed limiting, and a bit of a barrier.

It's useful as a Q&A, but I don't see it as a social network. Quora does seem better than Yahoo Answers though.

NHQ 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"Why [The Author Believes] Quora is in Trouble"
clobber 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Quora fell apart when Ashton Kutcher and other celebs started posting.
rch 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it is a relatively simple matter of Quora developers not understanding what their product could ultimately become.

Someone with influence and vision needs to step in and set s course.

jeffreymcmanus 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It is not necessary for one tool to lose in order for another tool to win.

Plenty of people outside Silicon Valley use Quora. If you aren't seeing them, that's a sign that you aren't paying sufficient attention, or that you don't follow many people outside Silicon Valley.

Last.fm web site primary and failover down last.fm
47 points by Hoff  10 hours ago   18 comments top 11
muppetman 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Last.fm is usually so reliable that it being down seems almost unnatural. Hope they're back soon, one of the few online services I feel is actually worth paying for.
shii 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Extremely unusual. Last.fm has one of the best uptimes of any large site with lots of constant traffic that I know of. I hope it's something benign and not some catastrophic event.
8ig8 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
Details here, if you haven't seen them:
michh 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know how Last.fm is doing? I still love it, but I've seen a lot of friends move away from it, to services that don't quite do the same like Spotify and Grooveshark.

Is that just my friends or have they experienced a massive exodus? I'd be sad if CBS pulled the plug at some point in the near future.

andypants 10 hours ago 1 reply      
That really does seem like a worst-case scenario (although at least they have backups).

I'd be really interested in how it happened.

EponymousCoward 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of Magnolia.
openbear 8 hours ago 1 reply      
They should change the error message that shows up when people try to look at their music history ...

"There was an error connecting to your Library. A page refresh should fix this problem."

... if I didn't read Hacker News I'd be sitting there hitting refresh a bunch of times :D Perhaps something simple like "please try back later" and link to the original blog post.

Hope they get things resolved and CBS doesn't give them grief for the outage. I've got almost six years of listening history on Last.fm and would hate to see it go away.

overshard 9 hours ago 0 replies      
In the past 3 years or so I've used Last.fm almost non-stop. It had to be some kind of hack or hosting service explosion.
dools 3 hours ago 0 replies      
In the meantime if you feel like creating some playlists, check out http://cueyoutube.com :)
srl 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"I know it's frustrating for you all but please bear with us -- I promise you having to work on a Sunday afternoon rather than dozing on the sofa is just as frustrating for us!"

Somebody is /really/ bad at PR: complaining about having to work to fix a client's problems, even jokingly, is a bad idea, unless your goal is to weed out the clients who take things too seriously.

paul9290 1 hour ago 0 replies      
i use last.fm weekly as i have a firefox plug in(fire.fm) at bottom right of firefox that has play controls to start & stop my various stations. It makes starting and listening to music effortless (fire.fm + last.fm)
About elnode - EmacsLisp version of node.js ferrier.me.uk
96 points by nicferrier  15 hours ago   17 comments top 5
dougws 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is extremely cool. There have been a few other Emacs webserver implementations, but none showing this much promise/active development. I'm really excited to see where this goes!
icey 11 hours ago 2 replies      
This could be nice for remote pair programming without having to do screen sharing.

For instance, the person on the non-typing end could see the edit stream over their iPad.

gruseom 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The author brings up the idea of an Etherpad for Emacs. I agree that this would be useful. I wonder how tricky it would be to get right.
swah 14 hours ago 1 reply      
We have gone too far.
pavpanchekha 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Who wants Emacs on Eggshells?
Ask HN: Strategy for password reset email vs URL to reset pwd
16 points by retrofit_brain  2 hours ago   18 comments top 11
patio11 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I give people a magic log me in code, good for 24 hours. (I lie - it is actually good for 48, to minimize user error.) For convenience there is also a URL, and the code works in the password box on the login form (until expiry).

Anyone using this to log in gets a prominent reset Your Password option after login.

This is, relatedly, how I log into people's accounts for support purposes, since I can generate your magic code for today at will.

trotsky 1 hour ago 0 replies      
You need to worry about users who have other people maliciously requesting resets just to bother them. A password reset link in email is the more easily ignored. If you send a new password, you need to make sure you still accept the old one in case it wasn't them who requested the reset. You'd also want/need to time out the 2nd "reset" password after a short period, as you don't want someone who gains access to their email account to be able to use it sometime in the future (possibly long after they've lost access to the email account). Long story short - use the reset link, there are good reasons why it's the widely used choice.
drivebyacct2 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The work it would take to make the specific generated password "one use" would be more effort than to send a reset password link. That shouldn't take any effort at all, really using any sort of tool/framework. One guy implemented it in like a half hour for our MVC3 app.

I get irritated like none other with stuff like that. It's just like emailing me my password in plaintext. If the user doesn't change the password, that email becomes a potential vulnerability. If a hacker gets access to that email, if they leave themselves logged in somewhere public, etc, etc. That password just became free game.

Plus, I have to copy/paste the password (what about mobile users, that's annoying), then I have to go reset the password myself which means digging through your site... THEN I have to again go retrieve the password to change it.

Plus you have the users that won't reset the password themselves manually... If you actually make it one time use only... then it's effectively the Exact same thing as just sending a reset link...

PLUS I can request a password reset for a random users account... locking them out until they check their email. That's horrendous, I can DOS your users trivially.

bonzoesc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Please send out the URL; my Facebook account would be unusable if I got a new password every time somebody decided to mess with me.

1: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9802610/Screenshots/06.png

gojomo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
If you just send a new password, the user may not change it. (They may count on the browser to remember it, or figure they'll just refer to the email again in the future.)

As a result, any future brief read-only compromise of their mailbox revealing that password may grant unauthorized access to their account.

Sending a time-limited link forces the choice of a new password. They might choose unwisely, but it would take an active compromise of their mailbox (intercepting a future reset-request) to leverage a password-reset to future compromise. If they do choose a bad password, that could be as bad as having your password sitting in their mailbox.

biot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Send an expiring URL to a "choose a new password" form. Resetting the person's password allows for a denial of service where an attacker can constantly reset a person's password out from under them. When you email a URL to change the password, the old password is left alone until the link is clicked and a new password entered.
kaffeinecoma 51 minutes ago 1 reply      
I use BCrypt, and do the following:

1. replace their current hash with "LOCKED", plus some random noise.

2. generate a random string, and store the hash in a "forcedResetToken" field for the user.

3. email them a URL, part of which is the token.

4. when the link is activated, I look up the user account by
the hash of the token, force them to choose a new pw, and remove the forcedResetToken.

That's the approach I take in my Wicket Quickstarter project (http://armhold.com/store).

Based on other comments I'm seeing, I'm now planning to also add an expiration of the token (say 24 hours or something).

plasma 2 hours ago 1 reply      
As a site user, I'd want to just have a link I can click to pick a new password.

I'm not going to use/keep the generated password you send me, so just linking me to a page that lets me pick a new password to begin with works best for me.

zoowar 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Never email a plain text password, it sends the wrong message about your commitment to security.
carbocation 2 hours ago 1 reply      
1) I like the single-use token, but I'm interested in hearing others' perspectives.

2) Don't just hash. Use bcrypt, since it's probably got a library for you to use in your language (or database) of choice: http://codahale.com/how-to-safely-store-a-password/

brandoncordell 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've always been partial to something like http://spacebug.com/tableless_secure_one_time_password/.
Viewpoint: CEO = Product Manager betashop.com
18 points by betashop  6 hours ago   8 comments top 6
SoftwareMaven 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The startup CEO's primary responsibility is keeping the company going, whether that means funding, sales, or product development. The problem is the current need can alter at a moment's notice.

There is a reason Bill Campbell (CEO of Intuit) said your first hire should be product management. I've written about that here: http://softwaremaven.innerbrane.com/2009/10/hire-product-man...

The article's general thought is right: early product management (we generally refer to it as customer development here) is critical. It is just too important to leave in her hands for long!

ForrestN 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
This could be reframed as a debate between the usefulness of different CEO archetypes. I might agree, especially for tech companies (I assume that's what the author means by "Startups"), that the visionary product designer CEO is a very effective one, especially at the beginning. But depending on the company, other archetypes can become at least as useful: the skillful manager, who hires all the right people and maximizes their utility; the negotiator/competitor/strategist who reads the market, plays the press and out-maneuvers other companies; the spokesman marketer who makes the case for his product to the world.

Also, people should realize that Jobs is great at all of these skills, in part because he's a genius but also because he's just really experienced.

mancjew 2 hours ago 0 replies      
When I first developing my startup I thought it was product first, but I soon realized it's customer first. CEO should give a high level direction of the company, connect with customers and feedback to the team. Sure he/she might give their opinions to the pixel level but that's not their primary job. If you're so hung up on building a great product as a CEO without spending enough time to validate with the market, you're wasting your time.
freejack 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure I agree with the author's view of product management or of how singular control of the product strategy and execution is useful. Good product managers don't insist on having things done their way, they insist on understanding what users want and managing a team towards solving the hard problems related to those user needs. The only reason Steve Jobs is successful in how he approaches product development is because he is the CEO. No other product manager I know of wields that sort of control over the product and the paycheck of those he works with.

Success comes from having the right people do the right things at the right time. I'd rather hire kick-ass product managers to help the rest of my product team do kick-ass things than insist that the team does it "exactly my way".

I'd probably quit if I worked for someone that forced the team to do it exactly his way...

dustingetz 3 hours ago 0 replies      
dude, your job is to be everything. so yeah, if the pixels are wrong, it's your fault and you have to fix it, but probably not by diving into CSS. its your job to go hire someone that is better than you at UX so you can fix the stuff only a CEO can fix.


kirillzubovsky 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
Best of Hacker News hnsearch.com
25 points by ma2rten  7 hours ago   10 comments top 7
biot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Not that karma means anything, but it's amazing that the user who submitted Bellard's Linux-in-browser story received more karma from submitting that one URL than I have for the hundreds of comments I've made over the last eight months.
duck 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Highest vote counts != Best of (IMHO)
tokenadult 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sure that eventually the "I don't learn anything on HN anymore, bring back the upvote count" thread will fall out of the top ten. The sooner, the better as far as I am concerned. If you haven't already upvoted the thread "How I Hacked Hacker News (with arc security advisory)," you should. That is a classic HN thread, full of interesting ideas, and well deserves your upvote even after most of the reported bugs have been fixed.

(Disclaimer: I don't have any karma dogs in this fight. I just like good, on-topic content here.)

bfung 4 hours ago 0 replies      
funny, i was just mucking with the api.hnsearch.com yesterday for the exact same query. Then I got distracted with the nice weather...

Here's the same query w/the rest api, but w/o paging. use the parameters start and limit for paging.


alorres 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The filter on date seems like the comments on Hacker News. Only difference is an occasional link will appear in the feed. Just wondering as to why comments are included in the filter.
Mithrandir 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you for providing the link! I'd trying been trying to get it before, but for some reason it wouldn't work.
kahawe 6 hours ago 1 reply      
A reddit link amongst the top 3... shame on you HN.
Ray, a Ruby game library github.com
84 points by mberube  14 hours ago   18 comments top 8
qbleep 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This looks nice. I'm always excited to see higher level languages being used for scripting games. Lua is awesome at what it does but I've never really liked the syntax and lack of real objects. Building objects on top of Lua tables has always felt like such a hack to me personally.

The one thing that always concerns me with Ruby engines, however, is distributing the un-obfuscated ruby files with a game. In a single player game, with no online leader-boards or other concerns of cheating it's fine. But in a game where someone might be tempted to cheat this just makes it too easy. I know obfuscating / compiling code isn't very strong security against cheating but it's a huge step up from distributing source files ready to be edited.

Engines like Love2D (maybe other Lua based engines too, I haven't tried) allow you to compile your lua scripts and distribute the compiled versions.

With Ruby I guess the options would be to make a Java game engine with JRuby then you're just distributing JVM bytecode. Or maybe building a native engine in c (like this one) but including Rubinius to run compiled Ruby code. Rubinius has a blog post suggesting that this should be possible (http://rubini.us/2011/03/17/running-ruby-with-no-ruby/)

I'd love to see a game engine on Ruby with code obfuscation built in.

shubber 8 hours ago 2 replies      
What I don't see there is collisions. Without a fast collision tool, it's hard to do whole classes of games anything like efficiently. It's a little disappointing that, having written a renderer adapter with native code, there isn't collisions as well.
stevefink 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Would be incredible if a PyGame type community can be built, for the Rubyists out there, around this tool. Kudos to this initiative!
freedrull 10 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the speed like? Looks like its built on top of some opengl C code, so I imagine its alright.
jergason 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Has anyone compared this to Rubygame (http://rubygame.org/)?
gabebw 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks pretty easy to use, and powerful too (3D?!). I'm going to try this out right now.
gabebw 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it possible to detect absolute position of a polygon? It looks like polygon.pos gives position relative to where it was created (and therefore polygon.pos.{x, y, height} are sort of broken).
DanielRibeiro 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Would be great if worked with Ruboto on Android.
The Secret Formula To Never Being Unemployed nickoneill.com
44 points by biznickman  9 hours ago   36 comments top 8
_delirium 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I suspect that running an informative blog raises your visibility in some areas much more than others. Looking for a web-related job by making a blog about Basecamp is quite possibly the best case, since the proportion of people hiring for a 37signals-product-related job who also read and care about blogs is probably fairly high. But, writing a popular welding blog may not work as well to increase your employment prospects as a welder, if most of the people hiring welders don't read or care about blogs.

(Then again, maybe people hiring welders these days do care about blogs. But I'm not sure you can extrapolate from a Basecamp blog helping you to get a webdev job, to all sectors of the economy.)

joe_the_user 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The first group of individuals who are always employed is skilled employees.

Uh really? This absurd absolute kind of lost me.

My guess is that given the recession, some portion of the employed want to create a psychologically appealing barrier between themselves and the unemployed. Making a claim that there's some certain path that will guarantee employment would seem to a fine way to do this, however crudely broad-brush the argument turns out to be.

daimyoyo 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I never knew that if I had skills that were in high demand, and lived in a city that had a vibrant startup culture that I'd have an easy time finding a job. Thanks!
maeon3 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The fact that the formula is a secret makes it more valuable. I better make a bookmark of this website.
4J7z0Fgt63dTZbs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This article seems to be written following a "How to gain impressions and establish yourself - here's list of things you should tell your readers!"
danoprey 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Move to where there are jobs.
D_Alex 1 hour ago 0 replies      
tl;dr: unemployed people should write blogs.

This is wrong for so many reasons...

wccrawford 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Have kills that are in demand.

Of course, that means keeping up with changes in your industry, but you should be doing that anyhow.

Skeleton: A Beautiful Boilerplate for Responsive, Mobile-Friendly Development getskeleton.com
226 points by wslh  1 day ago   24 comments top 19
thatcoolguy 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't like it too much. It's still based on designing for desktop first.

I prefer the ones that use a mobile first approach, which is more future-proof and is supported on more devices.

Also, another thing to consider is fluid-width vs fixed-width. Fluid width layouts are harder, but much more future proof. The mobile device landscape changes fast, and there are lots of sizes to design for. A fluid-width website would be much better in this case.

Some of these are Gridless[1], HTML5 Boilerplate[2] and 320 and Up[3].

[1]: http://thatcoolguy.github.com/gridless-boilerplate/

[2]: http://html5boilerplate.com/

[3]: http://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/projects/320andup/

drivebyacct2 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
Very cool. I'm just sad that it is limited to 960px :/.
dhgamache 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey All,

This is @dhg (creator of Skeleton)and just wanted to say I was pumped to see it on Hacker News. All feedback is well received and I'm actually in the process of releasing an update that will remedy the text-resize issue when font-size is bumped up or down, along with some other small bug fixes.

In terms of fluid vs. fixed I chose to have a set number of fixed resolutions because it allows for a bit more control at those sizes and has a set of associated media query sizes . It also allows for a nested grid which is not really achievable with a fluid grid.

Thanks for the feedback again everyone. I just started a new job that is keeping me busy (in an awesome way), but am going to try to get out an update next weekend.


detour 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I actually just used this as the base for a project I'm working on. It is nice just to have a starting point design-wise so I don't get caught up wasting time styling when my strong suit is coding.
ludwigvan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
How should one solve the menu issue for mobile devices? When the device is mobile, the menu on the left disappears with Skeleton. If one displays the menu, the user has to face it for every page.

Take a look at http://isit2013.org/ to see what I'm talking about, a page I made last year (it uses media queries, but not Skeleton). I'm open to any ideas on improving this site.

uggedal 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I would prefer a fluid grid. The fixed grid of Skeleton even overflows at certain device widths. I featured it on http://mediaqueri.es/ske/ a few months ago.
michaelschade 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I've used this a number of times already and it's made rapid deployment of pages a breeze. It's used on my little sandbox site, Rawr: http://rawr.mschade.me/

@dhg (the creator) seems quite nice and responsive to people tweeting him about it as well, which is a definite plus.

iaskwhy 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Nitpick: the text size on the button is smaller than the default text size. I find this on a lot of CSS frameworks and think it's wrong, it's an action, should be at least the same as the default text size, if not bigger.
danneu 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Love the scaling. Especially how the grid becomes stacked at mobile-width.
trickjarrett 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Am in the process of planning a redesign of a site, looking forward to working with this.
SkyMarshal 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Skeleton first got my attention a few weeks ago when I noticed Paul Irish had forked it to his Github account.


poissonpie 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks neat thanks. I tried Less Framework a while back and for some reason, just didn't quite get on with it...so it's nice to have an alternative
artursapek 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's really great to see open-source resources like this emerging all the time, as opposed to the likes of Flash. CSS, HTML5, and JS were all pushed pretty hard at a mobile hackathon I went to today.
jjm 14 hours ago 0 replies      
How does it compare to Less? http://lessframework.com/
jemeshsu 18 hours ago 0 replies      
How does it compare with Less Framework(http://lessframework.com/) ?
terhechte 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I like what I see here. Will try to use it in my next project.
jechen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can definitely see myself using this with jQuery Mobile. Thanks.
KarlFreeman 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Been using this a lot lately, really love it thanks @dhg
Find the Google+ profile of people you follow on Twitter migrat.us
22 points by migrochefort  7 hours ago   12 comments top 7
mrinterweb 3 hours ago 0 replies      
As much as I'd prefer to consolidate to using Google+, Google+ is not a replacement for Twitter for me. I would like to be able to post publicly based on broad topics like #programming so that all of my friends and family that have no clue what technobabble I am rambling about would not have to see it in their feed. I created a programming circle, but that does not make my posts public if I post to that circle. As far as I know, any time you post to public, everyone who has put you in a circle sees your post. I get the impression that this is what Sparks is for, but I have not yet made the connection. Possibly I do not understand how to use Google+ yet. If someone knows how to accomplish this, please tell.
zdam 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
I created an app that uses a different approach.


It relies on people you follow having used http://gplus.to to create a Google+ name that matches their Twitter name.

Currently it finds about 20% of the people you follow.

hammock 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Do all my twitter peeps have to connect to migratus as well for this to work? That's what it seems like.

I was expecting a service that would scrape all the G+ profiles for the twitter names listed there and compare it with my list of twitter followers.

dedicated 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not very useful. It's essentially a directory that maps twitter ids to G+ profiles. If you're the first of your friends to sign up, you'll find no results.

Hard to categorize a tool as useful if it has social network effects (needs critical mass).

Note that by signing up you're giving up the profile association willingly into their database.

jase_coop 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Not so great - Seems to require your Twitter followers to associate their Google account on Migrat.us before it's of any use.
daniel_iversen 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Whats the "Google+ ID" you need to associate?

- firstname.lastname@gmail.com
- https://plus.google.com/100033678853935069816
- 100033678853935069816


code_duck 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Google already has automated system to link up members to other profiles across the web. They could help with this fairly easily. Would people find that intrusive or creepy?
Google Plus: Learning from Failure mises.org
3 points by phyllotaxis  1 hour ago   discuss
       cached 18 July 2011 04:02:01 GMT