OoTheNigerian

sometimes, I make a lot of sense.

#AngelGate, Dave McClure and Re: Why I Stopped Reading Hacker News

25 September 2010 by Oo Nwoye

#AngelGate (Read this for a little background)

Summary: A group of respected Silicon Valley angel investors are accused of coming  together to ‘fix’ startup funding and (e)valuation.

I am actually surprised about the illegality of this especially as the total market share of the Angels involved is in the minority.  I thought collusion mattered only if the people involved had control of the market. I assumed it is the same reason the DOJ clipped Microsoft’s wings and has left Apple untouched.

The main issue I see here is that of integrity (you are what you say you are irrespective of who is looking). These “super angels” were supposed to put the interest of  entrepreneurs first as opposed to the “Big Bad VC’s”.  If all the accusations turn out to be true, it would be really disappointing.  It will just buttress the fact that it is almost always all about the money.

On Dave McClure*

First of all,  I totally disagree with the way Dave is being mobbed just because of the way he writes. My God! His character is being judged by his choice of fonts and his use of “swear words” and not for the content of the message. For a community that is dominated by people who espouse the freedom of humans, I am sure you’ll agree that he has the right to write the way he wants . I believe the world would be worse off if every one did the same thing the same way.  We would just all be a pack of Zombies.

I admit, Dave McClure has the ugliest slides, blog formatting and Twitter background in the world but always has very great content. Have  any one of you peeps ever stopped to think that it is very deliberate? I am sure it is much easier to write ‘normally’ than to take time out to do such ugly formatting. I think it works for me and the 40k people who head his every post (including those of you who are supposed to hate it so much).

If you do not like it, ignore it. But you wont, cos you know he writes good stuff.

As per his character, I cannot comment on his business ethics (we have not done business together) but I will say this, Dave McClure is generous with knowledge and his Startup Metrics for Pirates (AARRR)  have helped me and thousands of Internet startup founders immensely. That should count for a lot.

Of course, his response to Arrington’s post should have been more calculating especially as the other angels involved had not played their cards yet. I am sure he must have learnt his lesson.

Re: Why I Stopped Reading Hacker News:

About a week ago I read a post someone wrote explaining why he’s leaving HackerNews**. explaining the value  he got (the comments) was no longer  worth the time. What used to be healthy intellectual sparring had devolved into “group think” and focus on semantics. One of the reasons  he gave for this happening was the way karma points are allotted.

I did not really grasp what he meant until I finished going through this thread supposedly discussing the letter bomb the revered Ron Conway dropped on the “Super Angels”. The summary of the over 100 comments was that Dave McClure should be burnt and the stake for his writing style and Ron Conway got the spelling of entrepreneur wrong.

Now, anybody that deviated from this assessment was down voted into oblivion no matter how logical the opposing argument was. The message this sent out was, “no opposing arguments are allowed here no matter how good they are”. Now that is a bad thing for a place like hacker news where you come with the hope of some intellectual stimulation. Why come into a discussion when you only want to leave with what you already knew?

As a result of this, I did what any self respecting karma lover would do, shut up. At least on HN.

Recommendations for solving the problem:

  • Vote count should show up only after the discussion is no longer ‘hot’ (say after a day). So people are not unnecessarily influenced by the upvotes by others
  • No down voting: So people will not lose karma just for having an opposing view. Not gaining, is not as bad as losing

** In support of his right to write in any way he deems fit.

*HackerNews is the best technology social news site in the world, curated by some of the most intelligent peeps in the world

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I am a founder of Fonebase Labs, a Nigerian technology company. Our products are Fonenode - a telephony API, Callbase , a virtual contact center and WriteRack the best way to tweetstorm. Feel free to holla at me (ositanwoye@gmail) if need be.

7 comments | Categories: Technology | Tags: , ,

  • Famblycat33

    I’ve just started reading Hacker News over the past week or so, and good god, there’s a lot of navel gazing. I’m just about sick of hearing about this Angel Gate. Who cares? Move on.

  • Hey,

    I totally agree, this is a problem that affects almost every community in real life and online after it reaches a certain level of (im)maturity.

    It’s one of the main reasons that I got involved with Bleetbox, to allow people to voice alternative opinions about topics on the internet without having to fear the backlash of going against the herd.

    Much respect to you

  • We get annoyingly fixated on certain topics from time to time. Don’t worry we’ll move on soon.

  • The problem isn’t in the down-voting or the timing of revealing points. The problem is that the voting concept is still stuck in 2005 (with Digg’s launch). A binary (up/down) voting mechanism is outdated and certainly not effective for expressing approval/disapproval with lengthy comments on complex issues.

    So, in my opinion, the voting paradigm needs to change or we’ll always have this problem.

  • Rob

    I am not a participant in Hacker News, but just a quick point – negative voting never works. If they are doing that, they should know better. Good post btw – the charges of collusion are ridiculous.

  • The problems with the Hacker News comments are endemic to the web generally. What we need is a better way to post, review, and sort comments.

  • The problems you cite with Hacker News are endemic to the web generally. What we need is a more intelligent, sophisticated way to post and sort comments.