Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Remark on the decline of Hacker News

Hacker News has been going downhill since at least 1237 days ago ( But it's an interesting decline. Maybe not for the most part anymore, but for a large part, the site is still pretty good. Every now and again something really precious will still come along, even if it's rarer than it once was. But a lot of things are just sorta-good, sorta-precious. For instance, this post about the Stalin Scheme compiler is on the front page this evening:

The first thing a good hacker should notice is "Cool! A language compiler! And for a dynamic and powerful language like Scheme, not C!" It's a technical project only certain types of hackers would be interested in. This makes it good. But what makes it less good is that it's such an old project, that any hacker who has had a slightly more than passing interest in Scheme the language has probably come across Stalin before. And Chicken Scheme, and so on.

So there's the problem of Hacker News submissions being sorta-good. This is what keeps the site alive. Now we look at the comments... not only are they almost all meta (a bad sign in itself), there's a crap ton of people complaining about the name! One even hints at getting the creator of the project fired from his position as a professor at his university, because of the name. This isn't outside the realm of possibility. The linked post is at once both a display of what keeps Hacker News good-enough and the ultimate real problem with Hacker News: its comment culture. The Hacker Aesthetic is all but extinct. People have to watch what they say, even if it's clearly a joke. It's depressing.

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