The Problem with Hacker News

May 2, 2012

My friend Tom published an interesting post this morning about copying the wrong part of idea. The post is based on something stupid someone commented on Hacker News, and I want to expand on that a little bit.

Let’s talk about people saying stupid things on Hacker News.

This isn’t the typical “people say stupid things online” problem because people on Hacker News are genuinely smart; their reasoning skills are top-notch and they’re obviously capable of rational thought. What comments on Hacker News lack is empathy.

Commenters on Hacker News suffer from a severe case of collective egocentrism; they are unable (or unwilling) to see things form another’s perspective. From their perspective as developers, it makes sense for them to think something should be a certain way. However, when you consider things from another perspective, say, that of a typical user (or, heaven forgive me for using the term, customer), their assertions seem rather childish.

When you say something should be some way because you want something to be that way, you’re throwing yourself under Hume’s Guillotine. (side note: what a badass term. I couldn’t not use it.)

I’ve removed Hacker News from my Top Sites for the same reason I stopped visiting Slashdot years ago; the comments became so inane and negative that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’m not saying Hacker News needs to change, just that there are implications for this growing trend of this self-congratulatory negativism of their comments.

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