It's my experience that anything that whiffs of self promotion tends to get downvoted away, which seems reasonable.

Anything that expresses a non-mainstream opinion might hit the initial downvote limit, but recover over time if it turns out to have some merit. (My fascination with capability based security falls into this niche)

Something non-obvious, but informative, tends to get a bit of upvoting.

The rare really good point that builds discussions... those get rewarded richly.

So, the moderation system, as near as I can tell, works as intended. The feedback cycle takes a while to train us for better behavior, but it seems to work.

You do have to weigh all of the above, against the factors that overcome inertia, and lead to someone posting.

Most people reading are likely to see something expressed at least as good as they would, and thus just lurk.

It's only when you've got a nit to pick, or an interesting tangent, or need to self-promote, that people tend to post. These are the forces always pushing against moderation.

HN is my top 1 website when it comes to kindness. I used to regularly visit places out of habit where cynicism was 100x stronger about everything. I quit that long time ago and life became so much better. I think a small dose of cynicism is beneficial in certain situations, but too much of it and it spreads like a disease. Yes, you can encounter it here but for me it's manageable, maybe because other websites set the bar very low.
Tech used to be much more altruistic and optimistic. People hacking away on things for almost no pay, to genuinely make things for people better, with the belief that technology would unlock a lot of flourishing.

Now, it's the most lucrative industry in the world, attracting lots of grifters and Wall St. types whose only concern is making a lot of money, and the dystopian downsides of technology have become ever more apparent.

Some people are jaded from how bright the future looked to how it's looking now.

If you've worked in the startup space long enough, you become cynical. The failure to success ratio is very, very high. On top of that, many of the "successes" are not. You'll run into fake deals (no money changing hands), fake acquisitions (investors and founders got zero), fake bosses ("friend" of a founder with fancy title that doesn't do anything)... on and on.
Never forget https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8863

> 1. For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem. From Windows or Mac, this FTP account could be accessed through built-in software.

That said, right now the industry is going through some turmoil. We're coming off the high of low interest rates, and it's turning into a mighty hangover. Plus, we're trying to automate ourselves away with AI, and (working in) tech just isn't fun with Scrum/Agile/Meetings/Sprints/Bluh.

I don't think the level of cynicism has changed - there has always been a strong critical take on pretty much everything here. But I do agree that the tone of it has changed. It used to be more constructive and now people are more snarky.

But the tone ebbs and flows over time, too. Eventually the community moderation gets the point across via downvoting pointless or rude snark and flagging people who are outright toxic, and we get back to the norm.

Give it time.

no one ever called HN "a bunch of know-it all bro-grammers who hate everything" before recently?

In the past part of that perception has been a difference in social standards, I think. Here we get people who can be enthusiastically adoring of an idea and doing their best to offer their ideas to improve it: and others (including the person they're trying to communicate with) may take it as unalloyed negative criticism.

Part of is may be the twitter September people too. Its always the n00bs, after all. Everything was so much better before they showed up.

It is happening everywhere. Men are taking the narrowing of life's options, hard.

It's much more profitable for your average joe to adopt a cynical 'lie flat' attitude and then not show up until someone pays you.

Broken promises does this to people. The traditional structures don't have this problem, militaries can turn the majority of joes into soldiers.

It's regular society that has fostered the environment where malaise is comfortable and profit is meaningless. The wind has been sucked out of the country into code, and you get energy deficits in the populace. Who made programmers the jailer of their own soul? Who made men subservient to machines?

I believe the above is referring to this post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=37622702
Anything actually hacker related generally gets the full support of everyone, and are usually the best threads with tons of interesting comments and supportive sentiment. It's all the nonsense that people are sick of and just want to knock down. Indie hacker stuff tends to fall into that category as the vast majority of it is just glorified marketing email lists and job boards being promoted through astroturfing.
There are many folks who confuse cynicism with thoughtfulness and intelligence.
I think it is one of those darker sides of human nature. It takes concerted effort to think a problem through enough to realize if a proposed solution is really good or not. Our first instinct does not seem to be to praise someone for a thoughtful act or word; but to find a flaw in it.

Sometimes it is laziness. Sometimes it is just ego. But too often we will spend more effort on attacking a bad idea than in promoting a good one. This is not to say that much of the criticism isn't deserved. There are plenty of horrendous ideas floating around out there. But if we ignore them and spend our efforts on the good ones, then the cream will rise to the top faster.

A lesson I learned from raising kids - try to say two positive things for every corrective action you take. It will not only improve the world around you, but it will be good for your own well being.

Less secure people seek to promote their greatness.

Starting a comment with 'No.' is a sure-fire sign of this. As is seeking to never be wrong driving a long comment train where OP seeks to assure others they're both never wrong while also modest. This is especially bad when trying to limit self-perceived reputation damage when using their real name as a handle - isn't HN privacy-centric now? Should we not all the throwaway or anonymous cowards? Let the content matter, not the ego.

As HN's popularity has increased, especially with that have never compiled Slackware while walking up a hill backwards, in a blizzard, carrying a tree, so have the numbers of people starting spewing combative comments. Usenet never had flamewars, and frankly if I were to launch my GUI for rsync anywhere, it'd be there.

Theory: maybe because the HN community values avoiding comments that don't have much substance or are redundant with things that have already been said - and there are only so many ways of saying "wow this is so cool", whereas there are plenty of ways to be cynical about something.
Remember the dropbox announcement in 2007? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9224
I like the tech punditry on here. Most of it is top notch. The odd bad faith comment appears now and then, but they're typically down-voted and greyed out (yet I still end up reading them because they're sometimes funny).

In terms of sentiment analysis of a 10 year window, I have yet to see someone try and attempt that. It would be a good exercise and would be concrete proof that comments have devolved to a sort of Reddit-esque commenting style.

I think in this case it is long form hucksterism that is less about tech and more about hype and promo. There is nothing to learn or discuss - just a sales pitch.
I see threads like this one from time to time and wonder where OPs do find it. There may be some outbreaks, but nothing systemic to worry about, afaic. Are you sure you’re not overreacting on that specific thread? E.g. there’s a chance that most negative commenters just happened to be there in their active hours.
It's a matter of perspective. Perhaps life is mostly "negative" by some perspectives. So from the "positive" people it seems like it's negative when it's really just matter of fact.
I don’t believe you! I jest, but I find technical spaces have lots of cynicism floating around. I’ve not been a reader that long so not really sure - but a certainly get the sense it is somewhat normalised here.
Yeah, the amount of snark, nitpicking, and cynism has gone through the roof. They should rename the site to Nitpicker News. Case in point. Someone posted their tool to help people with ADHD focus. Most comments were "Aw, don't make me watch a video." The video was 65 seconds long. Or someone posts a chart maker tool and the first complaint is that the poster used the phrase "visually stunning" to describe the tool's output. Or the very common "I clicked on the link and the page asked me to sign up to their newsletter. What is wrong with the world?" complaint that is posted on every article regardless of topic.
I am convinced that cynicism is a good thing. Often, the people who are not cynical or angry are avoiding the real problems. Or they don't care, are just hanging around collecting a paycheck, etc.

You imply that being cynical has become "the norm," but there's always more friction involved in being cynical. Happy bullshitters never get in trouble.

You’d have to sample 1000 from today and 1000 from five or ten years ago to really know.
because they're written by humans with anonymity
They have to convince themselves that OP is lucky/lying/their idea couldn't work, otherwise they're forced to confront the fact that they wasted their life working at megacorp when they could've done something else.