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First Contact: HN, Crypto, and I


rose8 is a community member of We financed an article that she wrote and reposted it on hackernews. This piece is her reaction to the comments that it elicited.

Hello HN 👋

A few days ago, I discovered the brutal world of Hacker News comments. I published an article called “crypto and the unbanked,” someone reposted it, and I started browsing through the surprisingly high amount of negative comments.

Most comments didn’t directly target the article but crypto itself. It was my first contact with HN, and I didn't have any expectations about the reactions. It also was the first time I published an article about crypto in general. I'm neither a crypto fanatic nor a technical person. I follow crypto and DeFi out of curiosity and like exploring the ups and downsides of the movement. That was also my intention with the article. But it was perceived differently by the HN community.

One person in the comments says, “crypto is for the ultra banked,” and that they “hope it all burns down.” Another doesn’t even want to see articles about crypto on HN at all:

“Frankly, I think this article doesn't belong on HN in any shape or form. It's just people shilling left and right to pretend that cryptocurrencies will be a thing. They aren't and the will never be, because they can't.”

One comment had a different tone:

"As usual, here on HN, any time something is posted that relates to cryptocurrencies the discussion gets filled with negativity and even, seemingly unprovoked, outright hostility toward the idea. [...] It's surprising to me how, out of all the places, HN would be the one where that's the case. I wonder if anyone has any theories on why that is? [...] Why HN has this problem?"

This comment inspired me to dig a bit deeper in the hopes of, maybe, starting a conversation about it. I don't want to emotionally trigger or enrage people by writing this. I am genuinely curious about your opinions on why the reactions might be so strong. Some ideas were already given in the comments:

"The cryptocurrency space has been almost entirely overtaken by people whose sole interest is to get rich from coins increasing in value. [...] Meanwhile HN is filled mostly with engineers and tech-minded people (“geeks” if you will - I include myself in that group), and it is no surprise that there would be distaste for a formerly technologically promising field that has turned into a playground for trend-following marketers."

"The less toy-like crypto becomes, the more you see people freak out about it and try to push it back in the Pandora's box it came from. It's the same kind of thing that happens when people get deeply involved in politics and see an "us and them" and their side loses."

"HN is evidently the place where you don’t often see positive discussions of the merits on the front page, so that’s exactly what you see, and even if you have something to say you’d rather keep your mouth shut."

I just started to write about crypto and DeFi, and it's my aspiration to be aware of many different perspectives. If a considerable part of the programming and tech community has their doubts, including these is important. Anyone who wants to participate in the exploration can comment here.

What is your experience with HN comments?