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Hellbanned from Hacker News

posted to writings on jun 13th, 2012 with tags drama and nerd, last updated on jul 9th, 2012

Yesterday I submitted a post on Hacker News out of frustration at moderators pedantically changing post titles. After quickly rising to the number two spot on the front page with 482 points and 37 comments, the post was deleted by a moderator, presumably the operator of the site, Paul Graham. Since you can't read the text of it now, here it is:

I would ask that the unknown mysterious moderators of this site stop changing post titles long after they hit the front page.

The guidelines at http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html state: "You can make up a new title if you want, but if you put gratuitous editorial spin on it, the editors may rewrite it." but this should not apply just because the title submitted does not match the article. When the actual article's title makes no sense or provides no context, it should be allowed to stay changed.

A story is currently on the front page with a title of "Where the Heat and the Thunder Hit Their Shots" which was just changed from its previously edited title of something about visualization.

"Where the Heat and Thunder Hit Their Shots", while actually the title of the article, says absolutely nothing about the content of the article. Is this an article about weather? Photography? Nope, it's about basketball. Why is it on Hacker News? Oh, the submitter liked the visualizations, which is exactly what the previously edited title said before it was changed.

Another example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3875857 was a story about Light Table and the title was edited to reflect that until it had at least 100 points. Then a moderator changed it to the story's actual title of "On concepts and realities" which said absolutely nothing about it and probably caused lots of people that had already visited the link once to read it and think it was something else.

Moderators, please stop doing this.

As soon as the post was deleted, I received an e-mail from Paul Graham:

 From: Paul Graham <pg@ycombinator.com>
 Sender: cryptograham@gmail.com
 To: jcs@jcs.org
 Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2012 14:09:12 -0700
 Message-ID: <CAFMqLCjhQn6x8LwrH6JtLG7=s8f_icoti-Lh3Adi799o+RonRw@mail.gmail.com>
 Subject: guidelines

 The guidelines (as you probably already knew) also say that if you
 have a question about moderation, send us an email instead
 of posting about it on the site.

Soon after my post was removed from the front page, other users started creating posts asking where it went, one of which was also deleted by a moderator after it made its way to the front page. Paul finally responded in one quoting the guidelines and nothing more.

I tried to respond to one of the new posts to explain that I didn't delete the original, but I received an error "You're submitting too fast. Please slow down. Thanks." whenever I would submit a comment, despite not commenting previously for at least a half hour. I waited some more and tried commenting again, then tried commenting in other posts but kept receiving the same error. The site was also responding much slower than usual.

While I am able to post comments now, I have been childishly "hellbanned" from Hacker News. My comments appear to be posted to the site, but nobody can see them except me. When others view my profile or posts where I've commented, my recent comments simply do not appear:

/images/notaweblog/2012-06-13_view_to_others.png

If a user turns on the "showdead" option, usually only used to see spam, my comments will be visible, but unreadable and marked as dead:

/images/notaweblog/2012-06-13_showdead.png

I've also apparently been "slowbanned", as the site now takes between 10 and 20 seconds to respond to anything I do in attempt to get me to stop using it:

/images/notaweblog/2012-06-13_slowbanned.png

I've verified that this is not just usual slow behavior of the site, as logging out makes the site respond instantly, as well as when viewing from another logged-in account.

While these methods are usually used for spammers, as you can see from my profile, I've been a Hacker News contributor for over 4 years, and have a karma score of 17,803 which ranks me 42nd among the thousands of users on the site (edit: my account has since been removed from the automated leaderboard - clearly indicating I've been banned or otherwise flagged). I've attended Hacker News meetups and built an auxiliary site for Hacker News users to trade things (hntrades.com, since taken down). Apparently this means nothing in the face of submitting public feedback to the moderators of the site, the identities of which are still kept secret. So long, Hacker News.

Update: I've since created lobste.rs based on some ideas I've had for a tech news site.

Comments? Contact me via Twitter or e-mail.