I'm not alone in watching HN's downwards slide to the level of most other internet forums where posts and announcements are met by default with thoughtless criticism, complaints that the post is offtopic, and other obnoxious contributions. To an extent this is inevitable, but recently in some cases the noise has become loud enough to drown the thoughtful discussion the site is known for. I have a suggestion for improvement: it should cost Karma to comment, and when your Karma drops below a certain threshold you can no longer comment.
My reasoning is that the trash comments we all hate are kneejerk criticisms with little thought put into them, which I suspect are largely made for the sake of saying something and collecting Karma.
Assuming that Karma is increased as people comment on and upvote your comments/submissions, I propose altering the system such that making a comment should cost the equivalent quantity of Karma that would be gained by a single upvote or comment in reply. This way comments with so little value to the community that they are ignored completely or just downvoted would reduce the commentator's Karma, bringing it to the level at which he or she would no longer irritate us with his or her pointless submissions.
The rough edge with this suggestion is new accounts. I don't want it to become impossible for a new user to post, but if each new and unknown user gets "5 free comments", then the problem isn't going away. I am not suggesting suppressing anybody's ability to post however, so with this system new users would have to contribute a voteworthy or commentworthy article before being able to comment, and I don't think that would be a bad thing.
Posted on 07 Sep 2012
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