I'm giving a talk @tabconf titled "Why you shouldn't use Stacker News"
Help me give it. What are the top reasons someone SHOULD NOT use Stacker News?
This isn't a gimmick title.
My goal with the talk is to embody a rational skeptic/pessimist/critic of SN. I will not defend SN or minimize the criticisms provided in the talk in any way. Again, not a gimmick. This is a GENUINE study of what SN is doing wrong, appears to be doing wrong, or has a high potential to do wrong.
I know this will be hard for some of you, so to show I really want your help coming up with negative takes, 1000 sats or more to every unique (within this comment thread) and well stated reason for why someone SHOULD NOT use Stacker News.
1,000 sats paid 23 times
k00b's bounties
Don't use SN if you don't want to read posts optimized for farming sats that exploits every bug/weakness homo sapiens have in their hardware/software.
Thinks about those emotional-triggering copy-pasta posts like "Im 12 years old and I am learning bitcoin wooow" that farm sats really efficiently.
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Voting system particulars are opaque to regular users, but visible to developers, since you have open source. So malicious agents will be ready with their bots the moment SN userbase (/daily coin flow) reaches a certain level.
For instance, using a small botnet to create and fund 100 accounts with 1000 sats each (~30 usd cost). Could use this to for instance:
  • Create superpower users. By having all the bots post (chatgpt generated stuff so it's not so obvious), then upvote each others posts (and a few externals, to fuzzy analyis), it seems that the "graph of trust" generated could be gamed such that arbitrary amount of "trust" can be given (or taken away, by flagging/downvoting) to any user.
  • DDos your trust graph (which seems to have O^3 time complexity? So 1 sat/comment -> ~260 USD to make 1M ItemAct (etc) from separate users -> 1 TB adjacency table for trust..) It appears the trust-graph has a heavy recursive algorithm, I don't see any load tests for it but i might be wrong.
  • I haven't looked super deep into the graph construction algorithm so you might have ways to prevent the above. But in case you haven't considered this: Could PageRank fit as an ranking algorithm instead of the graph? You want to give rank to users who zap high quality posts (early), and divide their rank by total number they zap, then rank by how many incoming vs outgoing zaps per user. IIRC it is O(n+m) complexity (n - nodes, m - links).
  • Since Rewards calcs are done at a public, given time every 24hs, the same attack as above, or any other extracted from the source code can be done just before Reward calc to suddenly steal all 21% of posts and get all the rewards. Suggestion: Randomize the times these calculations are performed. Also extract out from open source the "heart" of vote calculation.
  • Generally write load testers for big user influx cases, see what happens.
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Pretty much all of this is wrong when it attempts to get detailed. I do think it's a worthwhile lens though and it does suggest a bounty payable reason in our appearance:
The devs are naive
Also go back and study PageRank. What's its runtime complexity? 😉
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Is it not then possible to create 1000 bot accounts upvoting each other and gaining trust and using that trust to heavily influence all other posts as well as rewards?
I took a semester studying advanced linear algebra where the end project was building pagerank, it can (obviously) scale to millions and millions of nodes.
The "reason people shouldn't use SN" remains the same: The website has powerusers built in, and as soon as it becomes profitable, all content will be links to blog posts, like I've mentioned was the cause of aggregator Diggs downfall in favor of reddit. Hopefully that is not seen as a naive point to make.
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I'm sorry. I realize now that probably came off pretty brash. I was not suggesting you are naive. I was just being blunt because you were being a touch presumptive, but I should be happy you've put in the work that you have and I am. (It's just a lot of work to untangle presumptions and I'm so time-poor that it triggers me. Again, I'm sorry. It's not the person I want to be.)
Is it not then possible to create 1000 bot accounts upvoting each other and gaining trust and using that trust to heavily influence all other posts as well as rewards?
It's not possible the way you describe it. It's likely possible if paired with other exceptional circumstances. It's hard to explain why but the algorithm biases away from trust clusters.
I took a semester studying advanced linear algebra where the end project was building pagerank, it can (obviously) scale to millions and millions of nodes.
Naive pagerank (power method) has a runtime complexity of O(N^2). If you look at our algorithm more closely, you'll see we have O(N^3) because we are effectively running the power method N times.
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No worries, I understand as you do that it's hard to give advice to programmers of unknown competence without falling arwy of tending towards either "have you tried turning it on and off again?" or "have you noticed your (publically) cron-jobbed O(n^3) algorithm can be reduced to O(m+n)"? DIdn't mean to come off as concescending with the "you need more tests" comment, I make that observation in nearly every project I consult on.
I believe your business plan and architecture is inherently flawed due to the reasons of power user manipulation I've outlined, but I enjoy your site atm and respect the effort you put in to it. Thanks for your time in responding.
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❤️🫂
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Don’t need to. Both because they A) don’t need to visit the site and because B) they don’t need to sign-up.

A. Don’t need to visit the site

  • News is available elsewhere and content most of the time is just aggregated or a filtered of what appears elsewhere on the web.
  • Encouraging/highlighting more long-form user generated content and backlinks to StackerNews, would increase the perception that it is more than just an aggregation service.
  • Limited breadth & topics (will be a popular answer). I know this is subject to change in future and has already improved with the segregation of Nostr content, but still a barrier if don’t live & breathe these topics.
  • Content is lost if not seen that day or week. This is a biggie, because the experience is the very same for returning & engaged users. When returning to the site for the first time in months, users are not made aware of content (or sats) that they have missed during that time. It’s just lost or missed forevermore, unless they go digging. Adding this would help reinforce what an awesome source of value is here.

B. Don’t need to sign-up to see content

  • Content is completely open, but for good reason.
  • The trend with social sites is to optimise for sign-ups and then first few engagements.
  • In traditional social media that impacts the experience for those landing on the site, coercing them into sign-up. I know this is something you’ve made great efforts to avoid k00b.
  • I feel like SN is optimised in the complete opposite direction for the experience, in terms of approachability, transparency and/or zaps. A little more hand-holding & maybe a dismissible modal might help. Perhaps a middle ground to be sought between both those scenarios.
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One solution for content lost: possibility to order daily, biweekly, weekly newsletter with summaries into mailbox of the most commented & most zapped new posts? Could be automised with ai probably, someone?
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For TABconf people this is a hard one. Maybe I'd tell them:
Don't use Stacker News if you think the interoperable Lightning based redemption model for content (and curation) is doomed to fail. Go back to the soul crushing digital territory that's trying to return us to a feudal state. If it's returning us to a feudal state, then perhaps it's most visible in the mood of the platform kings, like Musk and Twitter, Zuckerberg and Facebook, two late-stage platforms doing late-stage things, from putting up walls, and digging moats, to fist-fighting one another ostensibly in the Coliseum—itself the symbol of a dead empire.
The new model however, isn't that, there's evolutionary pressure here, it's very new, only existing heretofore in a bitcoin bear market. Join Us.
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Don't use Stacker News if you think the interoperable Lightning based redemption model for content (and curation) is doomed to fail
That's it.
The new model however, isn't that, there's evolutionary pressure here, it's very new, only existing heretofore in a bitcoin bear market. Join Us. ✨
It's explicitly not a sales pitch so we'll have to leave that to the imagination. 🙂
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They may get addicted to the sats, high quality discussions and content.
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Reason: sats are manipulative
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And it's easy to get addicted to cowboy hats.
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1.When you go to the home page you lose yourself in an endless list of short posts all seeking attention.
This doesn’t give you an overview. This list changes every day. Posts go down, get burried.
  1. It doesn’t have a sleek responsive user interface like Facebook. You really have to get used to the user interface. If you are used to sleek intuitive user interfaces do not use it.
  2. Once you post something there is this clock ticking down. Like chasing you. If you like to work on a post, change it many times do not use it.
  3. If you like to add images etc. Videos. Easily share content that is not just a link: do notbuse it. I’m already at above 10.000 sats but I still don’t know how to add images and video inline. So use Facebook or Linkedin instead.
  4. It is a website there is no app you can download. At least I did not find one. If you are looking for a sleek app like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube you will be disappointed. Do not use it.
  5. There are those annoying ADs. Apparently some people can put 10.000 sats and their posts gets on top. If you hate people with money get treated like VIP do not use it.
  6. Addicted. If you do not want to be addicted to posting content and checking how many sats you got. If you only want to add content to a system like Facebook so others can receive money do Not use it.
  7. You cannot take all your content and keave stacker.news. Like you do on Damus, Nostr. If you want to own your content, take it with you like on nostr, damus do NOT use it.
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While I agree and enjoyed every point you made, it applies to forms of social media in general. The bounty was awarded for:
Privacy, we trust stacker news to some extent
Reason: we must trust stacker news to keep us private.
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It's an echo chamber by design. If you're looking for divergent takes, the discourse will always be gated to some extent. Nocoiners are unlikely to ever show up here but they literally have no coins.
If your primary interest in bitcoin is as a ticker on a screen and NGU, this isn't the place for you either. You probably haven't taken self-custody, which is a prerequisite to joining here. SN appeals to the niche community of bitcoin but not necessarily everyone who owns some.
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For the sake of achieving bitcoin zen. Keeping up with the in and outs of the community is fun and rewarding. But maybe there is something to be said about, just stacking sats in self custody with blinders on.
That being said....someones gonna have to break into my house and tackle me off the computer to stop me from using stacker news, lfg anon.
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The only genuine downsides, to me, are the limited scope of conversations and the flood of links that I have no interest in following.
If you want to talk about something other than Bitcoin, and now sports :), there's not much interest and it's not clear how to start those conversations.
Over time, I imagine people learn to stop posting content that no one engages with, but as SN grows and new generations of users fish for sats, there are going to be lots of unwanted links.
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lulled into a false sense of security/anonymity, you might divulge details about your setup, the tools you use, or the foolish things you've done, which could later be tied to your true identity and used against you. sp00ks and thieves could already be here, scraping and saving every post and every edit, for future analysis.
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The UI is ugly and dated, both on mobiles and desktop. If the goal is to stay niche that's fine, if it's growth it must move forward.
A good example is how many popular and great wallets (such as phoenix or sparrow) look great, while maintaining simplicity. Specter on the other hand is a mess (I suspect not only on the interface but the code as well).
The problem that waiting too long for a new UI brings is that many current users will inevitably get too attached to the 'niche' look n feel and fear change, but at what cost?
If the excuse is that "we don't wanna attract idiots like reddit", well the bitcointalk forum is both ugly and has a lot of idiots.
Other than that mad props for all the hard work from everyone and especially k00b, big balls move to ask for genuine criticism.
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The UI is ugly and dated
What?
I think SN has the most modern UI ever
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Yea I don't see how it's dated. Ugly is subjective. I don't think it's ugly, either.
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tbf to juanito, it certainly isn't conventionally attractive
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I don't think it's designed to be?
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Nah, but I think that's the point they're making and it's valid. Conventional people want conventional design and most people are conventional.
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I agree. I guess it just depends on the target audience of SN, both now and future, as to whether it necessitates a revamp or not.
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Full blown revamps are usually a bad idea IMO. It's far better to fix what's most visually wrong one at a time.
I love sn BUT
it is custodial. There is a way for it to not be, and there should be a version that strives for that. That’s the biggest flaw imo
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Winner winner custodial chicken dinner.
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As the financial incentives to participate increases, so will the amount of spam/bot posts. Even just bot zapping is a possibility that can warp behavior
Even if spam/bots can be kept in check, there's a big question as to whether post quality can be maintained when the site becomes more popular and mainstream.
Finally, there is the question of long run sustainability. At some point, will you need to cater to advertisers (and thus maximize throughput over quality) in order to keep the site running?
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Wow, tough one!
ok here goes
You should not use Stacker News if you struggle to cope with toxic (proud) bitcoin maximalism
it can be an echo chamber, however well intentioned, to the detriment of other viewpoints and content types
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As some have pointed out, it's a massive echo chamber right now that attracts only a very particular slice of people who are, or could be, interested in btc. Ideological diversity seems low, and membership shows the usual pathologies: relatively little truth-seeking (e.g., trying to question your beliefs and figure out what's true) and more circle-jerking and self-soothing (posts about how the btc religious doctrine is Right and True, and how stupid and corrupt and villainous The Enemy is, and how our triumph is certain and we will all soon be rich.)
This is not unusual for a sub-community in its relatively early days, but it's worth asking how early we really are, e.g., comparing with the early days of btc on bitcointalk, where the participants were even more "extreme" in the sense of devoting themselves to btc when it had far less going for it, and yet the conversation was often nuanced and hugely informed by wide learning and thought, not just vomiting up talking points of the Murray Rothbard book you looked at once. You had some confidence that the people writing manifestos on socialism had actually, like, read Marx.
In key ways, things are worse now. The ability to make participation a real economic activity with real prices is innovative, but it's not clear what the current SN incentive system will accomplish when bootstrapped out of this community.
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It's still a niche community heavily centred around emerging tech bitcoin and nostr, open source tools, and DIY recommendations if you're not willing to learn or apply yourself, and ask questions that will send you down a rabbit hole of blog links, then this place is not for you
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  • You need to pay to post or comment while other sites allow you to post for free
  • The wallet in SN is custodial so you could lose all your funds at any time
  • After a user has written a large amount of comments related to Bitcoin on SN, someone(either from inside or outside of SN) could use deep learning algorithms to identify that user IRL or link that user to other nyms.
  • You have Molluscophobia
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You should not use Stacker News as at some point, if the concept takes off, someone better-funded will copy all the (open-)source code and create a better version of the platform, killing SN in the process.
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What i see:
  • Sensationalism and Clickbait
  • Confirmation Bias
  • Lack of Fact-Checking
  • Privacy Concerns
  • Limited Depth
  • Bias and Agenda
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Echo Chamber Effect
  • Algorithmic Influence
I hope it usefull
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This probably isn't as legitimate, but if someone doesn't like a site that changes frequently, they probably won't like it. It's been a while since I've been to hacker news, but it seems pretty static in that the features don't really evolve, just the content and discussion topics. Whereas stacker news is constantly evolving, improving, etc. For some, that may not be as comfortable.
Yes, this is a "my greatest weakness is actually a strength" argument, but I do think for some it could be unsettling.
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Reason: it's a startup and it will inevitably change and potentially in ways I don't like.
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I think something more open and nostr based could replicate it. Why spend the emotional energy and reputation on something centralized which will inevitably let you down and you'll move on from, getting close to no transferability from when it happens.
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This is the best one so far imo
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Doesn't stop me from being here every day but it's pre nostr so perhaps that crowd might not see SN being worth it. I know it's something you're looking into as well.
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No need to explain.
I think you're right that they don't see SN as being worth it. It's a really interesting problem with really interesting non-obvious answers.
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Getting sats while learning about Bitcoin, having fun, and making friends. All this under privacy.
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Stacker news is not for you if you…
  • Like - Remaining sheepish social slaves, unrewarded for your attention & bold brainwaves.
  • Dislike - Having sovereignty over your eyeballs, away from the ad-based malls.
  • Like - Your next fix of doom-scrolling, distracting yourself with plastic mistruths, emojis & trolling.
  • Dislike - Getting genuine signal & feedback, making you more bullish about your stack.
  • Like - Signup flows that are archaic > Unable to view without showing it's you!
  • Dislike - Cutting-edge seamless Auth > 1-tap zero-trap.
  • Like - Staying uninformed about solutions to the big problems that await, relying on experts & clowns to decide our fate.
  • Dislike - Listening to plebs, the libertarian pro’s & learning the evils of our foes.
  • Like - Each month paying 8 dollar, like an over-controlled dog with an electric collar.
  • Dislike - Earning 30k sats a week, for an experience so fricking sleek!
  • Like - Remaining ignorant to vast tech of tomorrow, you'd rather go back to your cave to borrow in sorrow.
  • Dislike - Learning about value-for-value & methods of communications, thinking deeply of what follows the collapse of every nation.
  • (P.S. also not if you know how rhymes and poems normally work).
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You should not use SN if you think this is a forum to do "shitposting" and get sats easily. Here content is great and comments quality and feedback are usually very good. You should not try to fill with content quickly just to increase chances to get sats because it won't work. There is a lot of proof of brain here and a community of great people. And don't use SN if you are a bad bot. :P
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Proof of brain - if you don't like intellectual stimulation and prefer cheap dopamines, SN is not for you 😂
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Don't use SN if you can't handle being Darth'ed.. :)
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Not compatible with the most popular lightning wallet used today, wallet of Satoshi.
Nor strike, nor cash app.
Yadda yadda self custody nyknyc... But most people aren't, so you're cutting out most of the world from being able to log in.
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Can you name a product that is compatible with wallet of satoshi?
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There’s no reason, can’t believe every other site isn’t modeled like this, yes it’s addictive but that’s my problem
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If as their MAIN area of intrest they want to discuss recipes pets gender issues sports argue
I feel SN is best FOR Bitcoin, Nostr, Programming related discussions
My 2 cents
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