The Fluff Principle and other thoughts on community  FEB 26 2009

Paul Graham shares what he's learned in running a community news site called Hacker News for the past two years.

There are two main kinds of badness in comments: meanness and stupidity. There is a lot of overlap between the two -- mean comments are disproportionately likely also to be dumb -- but the strategies for dealing with them are different. Meanness is easier to control. You can have rules saying one shouldn't be mean, and if you enforce them it seems possible to keep a lid on meanness.

Keeping a lid on stupidity is harder, perhaps because stupidity is not so easily distinguishable. Mean people are more likely to know they're being mean than stupid people are to know they're being stupid.

It's sad that Graham's thinking seems so out of the ordinary these days. Who cares about good comments when you just want as many comments as possible to drive pageviews and ad revenues? (via gulfstream)

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