Josh Davis

I'm currently an Engineer working at Amazon and am living in Seattle.

I like to learn, pet kittens, and wear fluffy socks.

I never save anything for the swim back.

03 October 2014

Heavy-handed HackerNews: Mods are Unnecessarily Editing Titles and Swapping URLs


This post didn’t make the frontpage thus the experiment didn’t work. Still, the content is still valid.

I have been less than thrilled about the increase in administrative “duties” that have been going on with HackerNews since pg stepped down administrating the site.


As an experiment, I’ve changed the title of my post to see if it happens first hand.

The title of the submission should be Heavy-handed HackerNews: This Title Should Differ from the Article.

Here is the submission:

URL Hot Swapping

In particular, dang has a habit of hot swapping out URL submissions from underneath the comments.

Just last night an article was posted linking to Errata Security’s post on Reading the Silk Road configuration.

The comment section for the submission started off discussing the original posting. Yet at some point, the submission was changed to point to Brian Kreb’s post which had a less technical take and more general.

This hot swapping was noticed in the comments as well.

Doing this is unfair for a variety of reasons:

  1. The original submission could be from the author.
  2. The comments can cease to be relevant (like the previous example).
  3. The submitted article might add on to a more “credible” article that it refers to (like the previous example).

Title Changing

There is some rule that says submissions should have the original title of the web page. This is quite inane in various circumstances.

I have actually been the victim of this title changing as being an author of something linked to.

I wrote the September newsletter for Neovim. Within the hour, the newsletter was posted to HackerNews with a title that mentioned the new newsletter as well as mentioning the word Neovim.

This makes sense as the title of the article doesn’t include Neovim. That’s because “Neovim” is prepended to the Jekyll template that is used for rendering the page. The final <title> tag in the HTML becomes <title>Issue #3 - Better Late than Never - Neovim</title>

It was then changed to “Issue #3 – Better Late Than Never” which makes absolutely no sense without seeing the URL. I wasn’t the only one to notice either as this comment points out.


I understand that moderation is a necessity for spam, insults, sensational titles and the like. However this micro-moderating of submissions that degrade and change the original submissions needs to stop.

You're awesome for reading this. You should follow me on Twitter and GitHub.