...joined 9 years ago, and has 8183 karma

submissions / comments / favourites

2022 Ukraine Conflict Notes & Resources:

This is not the most massive profile in the world.

This is just a tribute.

Browse excerpts from a hand-selected library of 400+ classic Project Gutenberg texts. Excerpts are refreshed daily:

All of my productivity articles:


Some career advice for Competent People Like You, based on my experience as a coach.

This might seem uncomfortable at first, but if you're really competent at work, it's a good idea to take a break from focusing on your own skills, and your own career, and your own competence. Especially if you're comparing yourself to others, working hard to compete or prove yourself, and so on.

Take the time to notice how your team changes you. Document it a bit here and there, over time.

If you have an analytical gift, definitely keep a log of the effects of, or things you notice within, your team environment. At the very least, it's probably more fascinating--at some level--than any terrarium, aquarium, or vivarium you could ever build.

Do you need to change your job in place?

Change your team to change your job.

Need to change your team so you can fully reset your objective psychological environment? Change your job so you can change your team--rarely discussed, but often an important factor.

Unhappy employees tend to make their job situation all about their own skill or passion versus the skills or passions of others. In effect they spend too much time reflecting on what they can do, but usually it's better to discuss things like: What can the team do well, what do they seem to want me to do, or what can't I do in this team environment.

In a lot of cases people focused on their own competency so they can defray the perceived difficulty of gently and creatively taking on a team problem. Bzzt, that's the wrong way to find the security you crave.

Your team, meaning all the people around you at work, will change you and your job. They will even change your skill level, starting with your own perception of your skill level at work!

This aggregate effect will seem like a hidden factor controlling your career, as long as you keep focusing on yourself alone. So, make it about your team! Try regrouping, reshaping, changing who you talk to, hang with, whatever.

More here:


Product creator looking for feedback?

Here's how to request & sort through tech community comments to find product feedback that's worth your time:

- Baseline assumption: Online comments, seen as a whole, are a latent risk to your well being. That's the world we live in right now. But it can help to expect from the start that you will almost certainly be receiving frustrating replies from people with very little conscious control over the content and style of their response. Despite what they would tell you.

- Still, there are some real gems to be discovered. Experiences, things you didn't think about, the occasional motivational anecdote, and so on.

- To make this easier on yourself, ask for feedback when you are 1) rested 2) available mentally and emotionally 3) well-scheduled, knowing when you'll have to leave and move on with your day.

- When you put your contact info in your profile, it's a good idea to add that you may not be able to respond immediately. This reinforces a simple and healthy boundary. Yes, some people need to be told this.

- The best feedback you receive will almost always be from those who have tried your product out over a period of time, at intervals, not just once. The one-off review is notorious for being loaded with unfiltered emotion, good or bad--but rarely nuanced enough to be useful.

- Focus on comments that seem nuanced and considerate. Your day-in, day-out customers will typically match this mindset. They are not flash-in-the-pan blowhards or consumer advocate larpers looking to be as sarcastic as possible.

- Look for comments by people who are interested in, or curious about, your story. (You posted your story, right?) People who will read a story are generally more patient and mature than those who will dive in and write up their notes as if you requested a review by someone who simply can't be bothered right now.


- INTROVERTS: Responding can be risky to your conception of your role in product development. It can draw you in way too far, so try to keep responses simple and a bit detached. 1) Protect your tendency to go overboard when overwhelmed, and give basic, polite responses. 2) You will get tons of really shallow comments. Most of them are probably not worthy of your product, it's true.

- Review comments first, then go do something else, think about your responses, then respond.

- If there's a really difficult comment, compose a draft reply, then walk away for a bit, then edit as needed before submitting.

- Always look for inaccuracies in over-emotional comments. You can feel free to calmly point them out. This is almost always a blind spot for novice tech/product critics. And they will rarely fault you for the correction, because being correct is usually one of their personal values.

- If your product is deep and nuanced, reply as such! 1) Express that you'll need time to look into it. 2) Express that there is a depth component to your product that you are sure will involve a lot of hard work over time.

- You should never feel the need to reply to every comment.

- You should never feel obliged to address low-quality critical comments with a gushing message of thanks. This may even be harmful to your sense of pride in your ability to create. If somebody's being rude, or hyperbolic, or they're just pissed off--you are not their doormat.

- If somebody is being borderline-inappropriate in the comments, but it's important that you reply, ask them to connect with you directly via email for example, then give them a little time to cool down, then let them know you will reconnect in the coming days at the soonest. A lot of critics mix up the critic and performer archetypes, and they will calm down once the spotlight has moved away from their comment, so to speak.

- Gratitude, where appropriate, is always a good idea, but there are different levels of gratitude and you should consider what's A) appropriate in the community and B) appropriate in the context of your comment.

- Customers can often sense discomfort with vulnerability. Admit to yourself that your product will always be a work in progress, seen from a perfectionist's perspective. Focus on responding quickly and often. If you can't fix a problem immediately--it's really rare that this is necessary anyway. Better to be upfront and move on, addressing things on a workable schedule and over reasonable periods of time.


Weird theories I'm HORRIFIED to share...

- ARE ONLINE TECH COMMUNITIES FREE THERAPY FOR INFO-PEOPLE? ARE YOU HERE TO WASTE TIME...OR TO PROCESS AND RECLAIM IT? There are two general types of self-supportive outlay--emotional and informational. What's outlay? It's expression, talking, writing, communicating, with/to self or others. The emotional type could involve crying, sharing excitement, venting, or complaining, sometimes to a therapist. The informational type could involve acknowledging or clarifying your current status, like "I am dehydrated" or your current schedule, "I have a meeting coming up at 10" or your project status, "I am working on a game in Python but it is laggy for some reason".

Everyone needs to engage in both types of outlay in order to feel comfortable in life. Techies tend to get in more trouble the more they neglect the informational-type, and tend to develop a painful relational blind spot if they don't do _anything_ about the emotional-type. This is reversed for lots of other people who may seem annoying to me and you at times--they need to process feelings _mainly_, so commenting on HN headlines with hot takes on numbers, structures, and statuses isn't therapeutic to them, but would be more like an advanced excursion in psychological discovery if they decided to go there.

Communities that focus more on one method or the other will often reveal tacit community structures for punishing too much of the type of outlay that they're not there to support. Tech communities will generally have means of punishing a lack of logic, or expression of emotion without due attention to supporting info-structures like procedure and measurement. It's natural and nothing personal--but something to look out for if you are feeling persecuted out there, just for being you!

Eventually I hope we can all stop warring over which side is superior, and maybe then us techies will find ourselves more emotionally present, nuanced, and even more supportive of our communities as a side benefit.

("You seem kind of like an info-person. It sounds like you may just need like...a bunch of productivity tips?" --the worst-matched therapist I ever met, during the darkest time in my life, after a few sessions of him falling asleep while I laid out my difficulties...)

- THAT'S US, DRINKING THE RADIOACTIVE MILK: Today we look back at the early 1900s and think, "wow, people drank radioactive stuff, they microwaved themselves, they didn't wear seatbelts--things were super unsafe back then!" I'm confident that in the future we'll say this about the current decade(s) and mental health. Today we couch clear mental health risks in terms like "bold," "direct," "authentic," and even "joining the conversation" as if we can handle it all, NO PROBLEM! LOL yeah no. In the future this will be seen as groundbreaking in broader history, but also really dumb and unnecessary. The same problems can be dealt with more safely with less risk to human wellness, especially at an individual level. (And boy, let me tell you, the average Youtube comment section is at the TOP of my unnecessary-risk list!! I would not be surprised if these "experiences" are regulated in the future so we can all stop hurting each other so frequently...)

- GET THESE SUPERHEROES AWAY FROM ME: Currently our entire human life-path & career medium is built around teaching ourselves to be heroes ASAP, and trying to become stronger heroes, from birth until we die. We've been taught to talk ourselves up, our teams up, our families up, and our (whoever...pets?) up so much that we've created a massive superhero problem: And it's a long way down! Sure, we can now be described in many ways as a world of superheroes. Half of whom are annoying AF tripping over themselves to "help"--self included of course--and just to nail that little aspect in good, our superhero movies even reflect it in choice of plot and characterization. How clear can it be?! ...Are you IRON MAN aka Tony Stark, with a stereotypical teen-girl archetype issue tugging at your overbaked and under-necessary take-control style, or are you SPIDER-MAN aka Peter Parker, with a bad case of the whinge? COLLECT them all! Superhero downside risk is a thing! And at the same time, one of the biggest perceived problems that comes with living in our lovely little world is...? Being seen as weak, dumb, under-powered, of course. Which would be fine...except we're all still humans! This dichotomy will create a disturbing hypocrisy-resonance issue and silent havoc until it is broadly reconciled. (Perhaps when the sacred chain-spell of Marvel Movies is finally broken with the arrival of the long-awaited sequel to _Captain Ron_!) The hero's journey model is powerful and relevant, but let's also admit that it's stale and old, and often activates some downright AWKWARD behavior. Do the world a favor, leave the cape at home and relax!

- RECHARGE NOW: Individual humans are more than ever running out of, or risking their supplies of, reliable energy, and the world's energy systems are simply echoing that massive & strangely subjective issue at a macro level. Until we find a sustainable, reliable way to stoke, recover, and retain energy at an individual level, and taking into consideration our weirdly energy-sucking economic systems, we'll continue to have an energy problem at a macro level.

- INSERT / RETRY / FAIL: Most problems that relate to personality differences come down to what aspect & how much of yourself you excitedly insert into situations where other people also want to insert themselves and their own tools. The quicker you can recognize what parts of you you're dying to insert, and which tools you're dying to show everybody, the less of the problematic half of the equation you'll be. You'll also be able to solve more problems, faster...strangely enough!

- NO, _YOU'RE_ A FRAUD: "Science" vs "Pseudoscience" is one of the riskiest vocabulary dichotomies we have right now, at a cultural level. The two terms map way too easily onto "objective" vs "subjective" which is essentially the yin-yang of all human psychology. All of it, is in all of us, and we bounce around between objective and subjective modes all day long as individuals. If we want to evolve further we need to make this dichotomy obsolete by using better vocabulary. "Science" should be either considered in levels or not used at all. Does scientific mean somebody wrote a paper and ran a test? The same goes for pseudoscience. Does pseudoscience really just mean untested? These are incredibly lossy filters and we need new words, or sets of words, that can go in those same places. Otherwise we cannot by definition get results that help humanity transcend the limits of current humanity. We will fight against ourselves until we can better identify our individual pseudosciences and their usefulness. If you don't yet know about, or know know how/why to celebrate your personal level of pseudoscience, you are not ready to participate in this discussion.

- DON'T GOOGLE IT: Mathematics is simply the subjective organization of things. It is better to learn to embrace the subjective part earlier than later. It's too bad we don't feel like we have time to teach now we have a bunch of online communities with DON'T POST HOMEWORK PROBLEMS stickied... :-)

- ARE YOU OBJECT-ORIENTED, OR JUST ANOTHER NERD? The goal of programming languages during the latter half of the 20th century was to help the world cement a socially-productive schedule. Everyone was to get with the program. Once this goal was reached, the goalposts moved. The new goal was to help humanity become suitably extroverted. Extroversion means being more objective, or object-focused, rather than subject-focused. Thus the eventual emergence of object-oriented programming, the biggest metaphorical clue-bat ever wielded above the heads of introvert society-designers (social network coders) as the 21st century arrived. In the coming years I expect the emergence of coding paradigms related to the unknown, since this is our next huge hurdle.

- THEY TOOK MY UNCLE TO SPACE: We, humans, have not been suitably trained at / experienced in dealing with the unknown. (In fact, it might even make you uncomfortable if I don't give specific examples of what I'm referring to! "Here, have some of my wisdom--you probably mean UFOs!" Don't do that!) We continue to try to frantically map our past onto the unknown as soon as it emerges, and this activity is an existential threat to humanity. We have also trained ourselves to look at people who interpret new circumstances as fresh, unique occurrences as idiots, and we insist on showing how everything emerges from our past. This is dangerous and unnecessarily closed-minded and sets up really silly policy decisions.

- GIFS ARE JOULES: Meme culture accelerates our contact with questions that emerge from the human-unknown. This is really great--It's an acceleration of our evolution. If I could invent a new branch of science it would be maybe: metrics-of-meta-memetics. God, imagine tracking the meme economy like it's a climate system! Watching millions of hastily-crafted ideas that agitate people in various ways gradually reshape the human psychological landscape! It is going to be SPICY in Elon Musk meme-land this year everybody, take sunglasses and stay hydrated.

- ENTER STAGE RIGHT: If everybody annoys you and life sucks and there's no workaround, you might be living a script that doesn't offer you good leverage anymore. If everybody annoys you and life sucks and you have some clever workarounds, you still may be living such a script. If everybody is living a script that you can mostly identify within a person's first couple of sentences, and you can identify those who live a script that's just like your standard script, and you also know some pretty fun workarounds to the worst parts of your own script, and you can borrow others' scripts as needed to solve problems you couldn't solve in the past...congrats, chances are strong that you are now off-script in a good way.

- EXIT STAGE FRONT: The best setup for preparing to go off-script is to think of the scripts we live as tools that provide us with safety. There is a really good reason to stay on script, just like there's a really good reason not to ski off a cliff. This can help you contextualize what's about to come your way as soon as you deviate from your script, and what level of tooling you might need prepare and maintain in order to support such activity.

Because sometimes, you're skiing the same damn run again when you could be relaxing at the beach! God my aching thighs!

-- WARNING ---

Divisive content

- FOOD #1: The best Mtn Dew is Diet. Right now Diet Mtn Dew is also the best overall American soda on the market, followed by Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper. The best energy drink is Celsius Sparkling WildBerry, followed by Celsius Orange, followed by Rockstar Pure Zero Fruit Punch, followed by Rockstar Recovery Orange--which tastes exactly like the 1980s McDonald's Orange Juice with the foil top has returned to earth again in all its glory!!! And if you like orange, don't' miss AShoc #10 Orange Freeze!!! (If you aren't into energy drinks you are missing one of the biggest FLAVOR revolutions in history, caffeine or no)

Why diet? Diet drinks are one of the best ways to capture the subtlety of a flavor.

Diet drinks are also a good way to prepare yourself for the coming Flavor Wars of the 2030s, in which concentrated flavor will become a resource at critically low levels of supply. Watch for my book.

- FOOD #2: The best Pop Tarts are Cherry, followed by Boston Cream Pie. Corollary: The WORST foreign-food review videos in the world are the ones where people try Pop Tarts for the first time and take just a little nibble of the nasty crust, as if there's not a huge glob of frosting just sitting there waiting! Put these folks out of their misery! COAT THE WHOLE DAMN THING IN FROSTING, EVEN BONES AND SPOCK WOULD AGREE AT THIS LATE POINT. LET'S GOOOO!

- FOOD #3: The best diet phase is a dirty cut phase built around massive amounts of one's favorite candy bar. You should be able to eat a box of Whatchamacalits over the course of a few days and still lose 2-3 lbs. a week. (It is extremely unwise to focus only on macros at this level)

- FOOD #4: The best burgers have no veggies and _maybe_ carmelized onions (NEW THEORY FOR 2022)

- FOOD #5: One piece of pizza is a meal. Two is a celebration. Three is almost always a mistake in one's rating of one's own sensory perception capabilities.

- FOOD #6: The Taco Bell Chalupa is one of the best hybrid foods ever created.

- FOOD #7: Malt-O Meal Cocoa Dyno-Bites are better than the real thing unless you care about more direct cocoa taste than texture.

- FOOD #8: Snickers is the best all-around candy bar ever created.

- FOOD #9: The Cadbury Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bar is the weird candy bar hill I will probably die on, followed by the Ritter Sport equivalent. But definitely _not_ including the Nestle Chunky bar.

- FOOD #10: Even manufactured candy needs to be eaten as fresh as possible. It tastes better that way. Jar or closet or drawer candy is typically really nasty if you are used to fresh candy, and naturally keeping candy in those places longer than a few hours is a clear sign of personality issues to work on! (JUST a theory!!!)

- FOOD #11: After a difficult trip to the dentist, the best way to forge ahead in life is to immediately procure a massive donut with your favorite filling, washed down with a favorite diet energy drink with at least 100mg caffeine to help the numbness wear off. Your fresh new teeth and any fixes need this burn-in period! And your psychology needs to associate drilling in the mouth with pain that is ONLY TEMPORARY! Obvs.

- FOOD #12: The best fruit is a Pyrus pyrifolia, just out of its protective wrapping, enjoyed on a breezy august evening while looking at the moon rabbit & stars.

- FOOD #13: Yes, despite what the first 20 results on Google will tell you, you can get VERY sick by consuming expired whey protein, coming a DAMN SIGHT nigh unto death itself in fact! Don't Google it!

OK, this was way too fun. Finally,

- PROCRASTINATION REPLACEMENT THEORY: Always pick a different word, or set of words, to use in place of the word procrastination. This will give you a new range of solutions to try. EXAMPLE: You aren't procrastinating by reading this profile page. Probably one of these models fits better: A) You needed a break and a reset B) It's better in some way to wait right now, so you're learning about others and their stuff while waiting C) The universe brought you here to be prepared for even better success in life!

Well that last one is laughably unlikely, but there you go! You've defeated procrastination by selecting better words!


How about some HEAVY self-development advice?

Some of you have contacted me about what I'd consider advanced self-development.

I have some hard news, maybe.

The stuff you're already interested in probably isn't advanced level for you.

If you really want to stop repeating the same cycles in life, if you really want to break through into new frontiers, you have to learn to recognize the approaches and topics you naturally ignore, topics that make you laugh in derision, things (topics--practices--tools--theories) that make you bored.

An example of boring stuff? Stuff you already know about! You may have to take that deeper, and you may have to use your imagination to do so.

You have to focus on who you are to some degree for any kind of personal development, but eventually you have to get advanced enough to see who you aren't... And why that sucks...and what to do with that information.

You have to look at the people who you tend to talk over, or talk down. You have to take an open-minded look at the people you would otherwise resent. You have to be willing to say "been there, done that" and then "but I'm still intrigued by..."

And then you've got to find your way into whatever the next thing is for you, learning bit by bit until you start to exhaust yourself, still inspired by those who seem to take immediate benefit from boring or ridiculous thoughts or beliefs.

You'll become: I don't know what, and I hestitate to predict. The fun part here is that I don't know, and neither do you, and even probability-based perspectives are kind of broken at this level.

IMPORTANT: Self-development at this level WILL make you a better problem-solver and theorist. You may even start to feel more powerful than you've ever felt. But this process will probably also bring about swings of emotions; it may even exacerbate mental illness. Be careful if so.

If you eventually change what the world considers your "identity," you will learn, as I did, that this model is broken. It's a safety blanket that was never really there in the first place.

You will likely have to learn new ways of talking with or relating to your friends and family. They will not understand you so completely anymore, and they will naturally test your relationship for changes by returning to old relationship patterns and feeling out your reaction. Many will be pessimistic. Some friendships and relationships will have to remain in your past, but by their choice, not just yours.

They will try to sum you up, but you will notice that summaries don't really do you so much justice anymore.[1]

Please be careful, since human growth is, and has always been, a function of stress. I learned long ago to identify my psychological damage threshold by feel, so I can skirt the line and set boundaries when needed. If you are new to self-development, this is very risky.

If you can, please join me as we push ourselves a bit, to develop new ways of thinking and new ways of talking about those ways of thinking--and benefit the human race as a whole. You won't be just a techie anymore, but you'll be something we all need more of.



Need a quick inspirational quote?

I got bad news. All I got are these long-winded ones.

But sometimes nothing motivates better than the same ol' word salad, shuffled around a bit...

And like I always say, nothing sometimes better motivate the same ol' words, than some salad around the shuffler!


Do you like short fiction? How about some stories? You can knock out a few within seconds.

Six-word Story #1

Schoolmate fun. Even the birds joined.


Six-word Story #2

"Yep, alternator's going." Hundreds? Thousands? ...Millions?


Six-word Story #3

Toffee breath. .45 against my ribs.


Six-word Story #4

Up ahead, the chairlift began collapsing.


Six-word Story #5

Boy Scouts. Various beverages. All panting.


Six-word Story #6

"NVIDIA," it read, seemingly without reason.


About me: I'm just a business owner in Northern California.

I like to play with the concepts of identity & profile, to see what I can learn about myself, or about others.

I was raised in various environments where a strong focus on exclusive, singular forms of both identity & profile were REALLY treasured. There was tremendous fear of a loss of key aspects of both.

Chances are, you think those things are kind of important too, in some ways. You may draw national, political, social, or technical boundaries around your identity and profile.

You have probably given a reasonable amount of self-conscious consideration to your (singular) identity, and even more likely your (singular) profile.

But I have also learned how this can be REALLY bad, for all of us.


Anyway, welcome to an experiment. A thought, in some kind of progress.


There are currently zero Lamborghinis in my garage. God, I'm lame.

I started my current business with various tech offerings (including custom USB key menu software design, those were the days...) and eventually began offering standalone support & training services. I later became a trainer & coach for creatives, tech executives and startup founders.

In developing my training and coaching practice, I was lucky enough to be mentored by respected coaches, academics, and psychologists. It was fascinating to learn deeply about human personality dynamics, personal development, individual gifts and blind spots, group dynamics, and changing the world we live in for the better.


Pause for a breather

I can do a reasonable Scooby Doo impersonation.

I can imitate a rendition of an American preacher from the Great Awakening circa translated into a Japanese in a VHS film made for distribution by a high-demand religion, which I had copied to cassette tape in 1997 for Japanese study. As a missionary living in Japan.

Sometimes I call it a waste of time.

But also I know exactly which onigiri I like and where I can buy them.

I know how to talk my way into a Japanese housewife's apartment.

And I can tell you exactly what to eat on a cold rainy day in Gifu, so you'll never forget how beautiful everything was.


I was required to step completely outside of the tech space that I had thought was the best of all worlds, and I appreciated what I saw with new eyes. I immediately began work on my own new theories and self-support practices.

Outside of my own personal life, I've been fortunate & happy to watch my clients, including some of you on HN, make important and impressive life changes.

Some big moments for me:

Losing over 100 lbs. to overcome obesity. My friends were taken aback in public encounters when I called them by name. "Do I know you?" This is a pretty weird feeling.

Studying, measuring, and analyzing myself using journals, spreadsheets, and brainstorming sessions to overcome severe chronic depression and anxiety.

And: Using those same analysis tools to realize I had been raised with a set of fundamentalist religious beliefs, beliefs which brought the worst parts of the past forward along with the good.

These days, I like to blog and write in various places online about topics like productivity and work/life balance, personality dynamics, psychometrics, organizational psychology, FOSS and Linux, the outdoors, ham radio, stationery and writing, and computer graphics projects. I'm also a technical trader & investor and enjoy hacking on my own trading methods and frameworks.

Productivity-related publications:

My productivity system, Whole Productivity:

(Whole Productivity describes productivity which is compatible with being active on HN)

My modular to-do list-based productivity system known as Task BATL:

I like to hack on a subjective-intuitive meditation method for effective rest; I call it Frontdooring:

My OODA Loop alternative, the A2i Loop:

My mastery framework to assist in measuring your undertakings, from simple experiences up through mastery:


Other stuff for fun...

I like exploring and using FOSS projects. To me, FOSS in action is very close to an archetypal human ideal. And paying frequent attention to my ideals reliably gives me tons of good vibes--I learned this while working my way out of chronic depression.

A favorite moment was when my little submarine USNROV-1 was shown in the Blender SIGGRAPH demoreel in 2005:

I like to build extensions to various models based on the Jungian Cognitive Function (JCF) system of frameworks describing some building blocks of human psychology:

I founded a detective society, the International Society of Creative Sleuths:

My Boy Scouts replacement, the Junior AdventureChucks (Beta):


My daily journaling template:

Some notes & examples of how I integrate it with Geany:

Recent favorite songs:

Somebody Else Now by Daði Freyr -

Tunnel of You by Cannons -

Beautiful Losers by Hocus Pocus -

Stand Together by All Hail the Silence -

Hématome by L'Impératrice -

Outta My Mind by Monsune -

Some Favorite Chip, Game, & Demoscene Tunes:

C64: Tarzan Goes Ape OST:

C64: Drax - Why Me:

Human Race, subtune 4 - o2 Cover:

stardstm.mod - Stardust Memories by jester/sanity (Volker Tripp):

Aquarium by Awesome:

Radix - Emelie:

Radix AKA Mosaik - Loell:

Hunz - Sarah's Song:

Hunz and Mosaik collab - No Way Out But the Sky:

ROTT OST: Goin' Down the Fast Way:

Tip & Firefox - Hyperbased, Daxx Remix:

Planet Boelex & Mosaik - Sisumies:

Norfair - Chillzone:

Norfair - Obtuse but Smooth:


PS Have you ever posted a Helveticomment? Have you ever been the _Extraterrestrial_?

--The Helveticomment--

This is one of the weirdest experiences you can have while participating on HN. It also might be a sign that you understand the current thread and its topical sh-- at a level that not many others do...or, it may simply mean that you can produce original thinking about the topic, which is cool.

Helveticomment Example: You comment on an article or entry which ends up getting a _lot_ of comments. Yours was one of the first comments there from the start, yet it has received no upvotes or downvotes. Quite often it will have no replies, either.

This is a really strange feeling for the commenter, because the comment, which comes straight from your deep and thoughtful experiences, will often end up buried, while a bunch of really basic discussions, or "let me sum this up" comments float up to the top of the thread. I've seen this happen to others (reasonably sure despite not seeing the actual upvote count), and I've seen it happen to just a few of my comments.

I call this the Helveticomment, which is a combination of "Helvetia" and "comment", because the state of the comment is neutral. It's like the Switzerland of comments, sitting there between all these warring comment-thread countries. And yet, at the same time, it's an educated comment and not really lacking in quality despite the big noise happening around it.

If it's true that you're educated on the topic--or maybe even if not--the phenomenon can certainly give you that feeling of being an overlooked genius. But the surprising sense of neutrality and disconnect from the general discourse can also be a great moment to leverage into a coffee break during which you can further reflect within the environs of your unique mind.

(This is all assuming you haven't been muted in some way...)

--The Extraterrestrial--

I see these people in various online tech communities from time to time and have been one myself...

This is a name for someone who leaves a relevant comment or starts a comment thread where other commenters admit they don't know wtf the original commenter (the ET) is talking about, but share that they are intrigued, and/or ask for more information.

The other commenters want details, but the details won't help the discussion right now because 1) they will need time to review and process, 2) it's not an appropriate venue for long-form explanations or Q&A, and 3) those asking still lack insight that only comes from experience.

Since the information cannot be processed meaningfully, the original commenter and their experience might as well be from another planet, and all other people can do is make light commentary (which is specifically against guidelines in some communities), stare, mumble, wander off to ponder life, etc. It is difficult to respond even if the reception is positive.

Compounding things a bit, this can feel like a real perplexing situation in a community based on common intellectual values (knowledge, competency, interest in various learning and even some esoteric topics). Commenters generally expect that they can jump into a thread and either contribute or share some experience. The ET may have also expected that others would know about or have some experience in the domain in question.

So, the ET will get comments like "uh huh, interesting I'll check this out" or something similar. They may suss out that this kind of comment is not exactly a proud moment for either side of the conversation (it kind of should be, if it's relevant and new though, right?).

They realize that community members are definitely not their colleagues or peers, even though values are shared.

The result is that the commenter feels like they are from another planet. They are an Extraterrestrial (ET). They may therefore feel pressure to find a better home, leave the community for a while, etc.

They may also be concerned that if a non-ET really dissects...ahem, I mean scrutinizes...them with the wrong tools, amount of experience with the topic, or skeptical attitudes, their ET knowledge may be considered risky, dangerous, or a threat. When otherwise, within its native community, the knowledge itself is considered normally-good, nothing-fancy-helpful, normally-bad, even old hat maybe--just a broad mix of things.

If you are, or have been an ET, there's a chance this could be a cue to consider documenting what you know for lay persons in the communities you value. It's one thing to know something, it's another thing to know something deeply, and it's still another thing to package it up for distribution to those who are smart...

...but obviously not aware of _everything_ out there...(UFO synth sounds)