「服務他人是你住地球應該付出的租金。」– 穆罕默德‧阿里 (拳擊手)
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." -- Muhammad Ali, Boxer


The Lonely Work of Moderating Hacker News

矽谷工程師們共用一個資訊交流的平台「Hacker News」,駭客論壇,或暱稱HN。近幾年越來更大的流量帶來酸言酸語、帶有仇恨性質的發言,讓HN跟其他平台面臨一樣的問題。身為「板主」的Daniel Gackle跟Scott Bell,打算以一己之力對抗洪流,但他們又能撐多久?

When, years ago, I began working for tech companies in San Francisco, I noticed that my co-workers were always scrolling through a beige, text-only Web site that resembled a nineteen-nineties Internet forum. They were reading Hacker News—a link aggregator and message board that is something of a Silicon Valley institution. Technologists in Silicon Valley assume familiarity with Hacker News, just as New Yorkers do with the New York Post and the New York Times. For some, it's the first Web site they pull up in the morning; it captures the mix of technical obsession, business ambition, and aspirational curiosity that's typical of the Valley.


Like many of the software products that have shaped the Valley, Hacker News began as a side project. In 2007, the venture capitalist Paul Graham, who was then the president of the startup accelerator Y Combinator—an early investor in Dropbox, Stripe, Reddit, Twitch, and other companies—built the site as a way to experiment with Arc, a new programming language that he was co-authoring.


At first, the site attracted about sixteen hundred daily visitors, and Graham moderated and maintained it himself. Today, around five million people read Hacker News each month, and it's grown more difficult to moderate.


The site's now characteristic tone of performative erudition—hyperrational, dispassionate, contrarian,authoritative—often masks a deeper recklessness. Ill-advised citations proliferate; thought experiments abound; humane arguments are dismissed as emotional or irrational. Logic, applied narrowly, is used to justify broad moral positions. The most admired arguments are made with data, but the origins, veracity, and malleability of those data tend to be ancillary concerns.


The site's real-life moderators are Daniel Gackle and Scott Bell, two wildly polite old friends.

🎙️"From our perspective, the big surprise is how little control we actually have. We have to play our cards very carefully and very wisely, or even that control will sort of evaporate," Gackle said.

🎙️"If we're trying to change something deep, the ingredient is time," Bell said. "Patience allows us to be ambitious—to imagine people being more kind to each other, for example. It sounds kind of crazy."


The question they face now is whether the site's original culture can be responsibly scaled up, or adapted, to make space for a more inclusive, wider-ranging vision of technology.


Gackle and Bell continue to believe in the value of "intellectual curiosity" as a goal. They speak of it more as a relative state than a fixed condition, using terms like "freshness" and "excitement" and "surprise and delight." They are hopeful that, as Hacker News continues to grow, it will become, simultaneously, more diverse, more interesting, and more humane, while remaining in some fundamental sense a single community with a common goal.

閱讀全文:The New Yorker



hyperrational:extremely rational


dispassionate:not influenced by strong feeling


contrarian:a person who takes a contrary position or attitude


authoritative:possessing recognized or evident authority (clearly accurate or knowledgeable)


編輯/ 英語島編輯室

本文收錄於英語島English Island 2019年9月號