Downvoted on Hacker News

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

I’ve been following Hacker News for 8 years now, and over the last 2 or 3 years I’ve noticed the commenters there have become more political and right-wing. I try not to post comments there, but when I do, more and more, I find myself getting downvoted for saying things that are obviously true. So, for instance, recently the actor Shia Labeouf had an art project to promote the anti-Trump message “He will not divide us” and some right-wingers were intent on sabotaging this project. Right-wing commenters on sites such as Reddit demonstrated great cleverness is tracking down the location of a live-stream video that Labeouf had put up. The right-wing commenters watched the cloud trails left behind by jets, visible in the video, and combined that information with flight plans filed with the FCC, so as to determine that the live stream was in Tennessee. Once the right-wingers had figured out the location, they went on site to take down Labeouf’s message, and replace it with their own.

On the Hacker News post about this, I wrote:

It’s extremely worrisome that this part of human psychology exists. In this particular case, the white supremacists exerted maximum effort, and showed tremendous cleverness, simply to advance their agenda. This same energy could be exerted for thousands of good causes: crowdsourcing research efforts to track climate change, or track bird migrations, or to track populations of endangered species, or this energy could be channeled into astronomy, or any other research effort where amateurs play an important role in helping advance knowledge. Or this energy could be channeled into local volunteer efforts, such as teaching low income children skills they might not learn in the schools. Or reading to the blind at retirement centers. But instead this all of this cleverness and effort was exerted on behalf of a white supremacist agenda. I find it incredibly sad that people are moved to exert so much effort for what is on the surface a trivial and useless act, but worse, one which is ultimately in the service of a dark and evil impulse.

And this got downvoted! Not for being wrong, obviously, but because these same right-wingers are increasingly on Hacker News. I doubt they disagreed with what I wrote, but they do lash out at anyone who accurately describes what they are doing.

When I have time, I hope to create a forum a bit different than Hacker News.

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