Hackaday Comment Policy: We’re cleaning up

July 27, 2011 | Blogging, Rants and Raves | By: Mark VandeWettering

I am a long time reader of Hack A Day. It’s a great website, and often details projects that I find interesting well before they are picked up on other sites. It also tends to drive significant amounts of traffic to sites mentioned, so it’s good publicity for many interesting objects.

But lately, their comment section has become a complete and utter cesspool. I’ve read hundreds of comments over the last few months which fall into predictable categories…

  • You’re stupid.
  • Your project is stupid.
  • Why didn’t you do X?
  • That isn’t a hack.
  • Your grammar/spelling is wrong.
  • That video is fake, nobody could do X.
  • Any of a number of racist, sexist, and idiotic comments which decorum prevents me from reproducing.

I don’t see any of these kinds of comments as helpful, useful, informative, or inspiring.

To their credit, it appears that the Hack A Day crew are beginning to realize that this kind of stuff does nothing to enhance their brand and are taking steps to correct this.

Hackaday Comment Policy; We’re cleaning up. – Hack a Day

My own blog policy is simple (and given the relatively low number of non-spam comments, pretty easy to implement): be nice. If your postings aren’t nice, then they aren’t going to stay. I can handle disagreements and dissent, but if you can’t do it in a civil way, you can post your comments on your own blog and link back to me. I won’t mind. My blog is like my virtual living room. I wouldn’t allow anyone to come in and act like a complete buffoon in my house, and I’m not going to pay for the web services that lets them do so in my virtual living room either.

And arguing that some kind of “free speech” should be the rule is not going to fly either. You are entitled to your own free speech, but I don’t have to pay for it or promote it. You are free to pursue your own free speech using your own resources, but you don’t get to volunteer mine.

Some people have asked that come kind of comment voting system (like that employed on Slashdot) could be employed. I’ll merely say that I don’t read Slashdot anymore precisely because gaming of their comment system has reduced its utility considerably. It’s never been clear to me that such systems can be engineered to even reduce, much less eliminate, the kinds of negative comment trolling that I’ve been seeing.

Here’s my advice: if you think that a particular project on Hack A Day (or brainwagon or any other site) is deficient in some way, then get off your duff, make a better project, and publish it. Lend your own expertise to the discussion, and help elevate everyone’s game. That’s what the web should be about.

Oh, and keep up the good work, Hack A Day.


Comment from Kragen Javier Sitaker
Time 7/27/2011 at 4:41 pm

Taking the devil’s-advocate position, it’s considerably easier to point out the flaws in many things than it is to fix them — particularly since fixing them often involves persuading the project manager that they’re flaws, which implies, among other things, pointing them out — and it provides nearly the same benefit to some third party who is choosing between the flawed thing and a viable alternative.

Sometimes, of course, there is no viable alternative.

On the other hand, “you’re stupid” and “your project is stupid” are not sufficient in themselves to qualify as “pointing out the flaws in something”.

Comment from Mark VandeWettering
Time 7/27/2011 at 10:48 pm

I’m sorry, but I don’t see things this way. Nothing is without flaws. You can point them out without being negative. You can point to alternatives. You can make suggestions on further reading without being insulting or condescending. Reread the Hack A Day post. There were people who asked to have their projects removed from Hack A Day because of criticism levied against them. I can’t help but think that if criticism prevents authors from wanting their projects listed on Hack A Day, that’s a sign that there is something seriously unproductive going on.

You are right: it’s way easier to point out flaws than to fix them. So easy in fact that many of the criticisms I see are too easy: they are often just nitpicking. If something is actually wrong that offends you, go to the work of either showing how to do it properly, or provide helpful links and information. You don’t have to “convince” anyone that something is a flaw: just put the best information out there that you can.

Witness the recent FM transmitter assembly that MakeDino had listed on Hack A Day. Lots of people found Dino’s description of the oscillator as a Hartley wrong, but hardly anyone took the trouble to look at the schematic and describe what the oscillator actually was. Was Dino’s description correct? No, but it was the description in the kit. Would it be better if the descriptions really were correct? Absolutely. But surf the web. Try to find a proper, correct explanation for these simple bug transmitters. Despite their apparent simplicity, they are actually remarkably subtle. I haven’t seen what I consider to be a good explanation of these transmitters. Given that it’s apparently difficult to convey (at least in terms most people can understand), is it fair to criticize Dino for not providing one? If you aren’t willing to find or write one, why criticize the project author about it?

Comment from Cleaning Franchise Sydney
Time 8/4/2011 at 11:15 pm

Thanks, for Sharing your good ideas related to House Cleaning Services, really it is very helpful and I like it .

I,m also Sharing our information Your Cleaner offers the highest quality and most affordable prices for professional house cleaning in Melbourne Adelaide and Sydney.