• peter_vukovic 193 days ago

    The post is a clever implementation of the clickbait technique with a sole aim of bringing more startup CEOs and executives to visit Slab’s website and discover their product in the process. The arguments presented in the article are weak and show no proof of actual trust erosion as a result of Zuckerberg’s writing style, only a set of arbitrary conclusions on how certain words and phrases may appear to some people. This hardly belongs on HN.

    • Spooky23 193 days ago

      It's definitely a blog that exists to highlight the product. I don't think that's a problem.

      But with respect to Zuck, you don't need very sophisticated arguments. The PR team's process is very simple and the article captures it well. It boils down to a mad lib style narrative that consists of: "<Demonstration that I am Smart><Lofty Mission><"We" do stuff (key item: "I"==vision for a better world, "We"==action)><Sorry><Not Sorry><Commitment/Point of Pride/Forward Looking Vision>"

      End of the day, discerning readers spot nonsense speak, cynical readers perceive the opposite of whatever is being said/implied, and casual readers get a hit of positive perception that FB wants to project. Every company and every politician does it, but Zuckerberg's formula has a unique tone that stands out more.

      • gist 193 days ago

        Agree. Not even sure in any way how it matters to FB what anyone who writes about FB thinks about how Zuckerberg communicates or why he says what he does. 'Your Uncle' and 'Your Sister' who use facebook don't care or read what Zuckerberg says. They are looking for pictures on what the family and friends are doing.

        Likewise Zuckerberg's goal is to simply appeal to care and the actual words that he uses (like any PR release) just need to check off a box of respect in some way. No more and no less.

        Most fun part of the writing is when it's is mentioned that Zuckerberg studied and was a fan as a student at Harvard 'the classics'. Sure that which happened 15 years ago is enough to make you an expert in a way to actually effectively use that type of information.

        • paulcole 193 days ago

          > The post is a clever implementation of the clickbait technique with a sole aim of bringing more startup CEOs and executives to visit Slab’s website

          This is true of the majority of articles on HN or any other social media site for that matter. It's called marketing.

          • carbocation 193 days ago

            Paul Graham has referred to ads like this as "submarines."


            • CPLX 193 days ago

              No, he didn't.

              He's talking about articles in editorial media that were pitched by publicists.

              This is a content marketing article published by the company itself to promote themselves.

              Also nobody on the planet calls stories with marketing value submarines, except the legions of HN posters compelled to post this link every day or two for some reason.

              • PhasmaFelis 193 days ago

                > Also nobody on the planet calls stories with marketing value submarines, except the legions of HN posters compelled to post this link every day or two for some reason.

                This seems like a silly argument even if the article in question is not actually a submarine.

          • isoskeles 193 days ago

            Did whoever write this read some article where words from the Federal Reserve were over-analyzed (e.g. "patience") and think that this model also applies to Zuckerberg's Facebook posts? Because it doesn't. There are almost no real world ramifications from the words he writes on Facebook except for articles like this and movement of FB stock price.

            I also don't understand the direct contradiction between the ideas between #1 and #2 in this article. How does this get past editing, like I'm supposed to forget you just told me in #1 that Zuckerberg shifts blame and then in #2 there's a highlighted quote where he accepts blame?

            I hate Facebook either way, but Mark Zuckerberg has nothing to do with it. You're missing the boat if you equate Facebook and Zuckerberg and think that by attacking Mark Zuckerberg you're somehow fighting against the bad aspects of Facebook. Sure, Mark Zuckerberg embodies Facebook in many ways. But if he were to be ousted, I don't care if you brought Gandhi back from the dead and made him CEO of Facebook, Facebook will still be terrible. The platform and how people relate to other people on it will still be, net, detrimental to society.

            • pdonis 193 days ago

              I agree that enough other people have drunk the Facebook kool-aid by now that even if Zuckerberg were ousted, Facebook would still pursue basically the same goals and would still be net detrimental to society. However, Zuckerberg is the one who made the kool-aid in the first place, so I don't think you can say he has nothing to do with it.

              • isoskeles 193 days ago

                I remember the internet before Facebook, you probably do too. Being able to share your photos, whether it was on Myspace or something that required more effort like an earlier geocities-hosted site, was a fairly novel thing. People did feel more "connected" at that time. And I wouldn't say it was an invalid feeling. People wanted to carve out a piece of the internet and say, "Hey, I'm over here."

                Facebook rode that wave. So I don't think when it first became popular, I would put Zuckerberg at the center and say that he made the kool-aid.

                It was more like hundreds of thousands of people were saying, "We want kool-aid, we want kool-aid." And Facebook said, sure, we can do that, at least better than Myspace.

                • britch 193 days ago

                  I think a lot of what's wrong with modern Facebook follows directly from Zuckerberg's original vision and shortsightedness.

                  It's possible to imagine a Facebook which stayed small scale, friends of friends, and served primarily as a photo-sharing/chat platform. Partly because of business pressure and partly because of Zuckerberg's vision they made this move to connect everyone. This is something they could do from a technical perspective, but they did not consider the societal consequences.

                  They try to play the neutral platform, just giving people a chance to "share ideas" but they pick what's shown and to who. Even if it's obfuscated by an algorithm that was trained on user-data, they're still choosing.

                  I think a lot of this stems from Zuckerberg's vision to "connect the world" without thinking through what that actually means, and what problems would come up.

                  • pdonis 193 days ago

                    Lots of people wanted an easier way to share photos, message people, find friends, etc.

                    Lots of people did not want their personal data sold, their private information compromised, their creepy exes given an easy way to stalk them, and general loss of ownership of their data and their online presence. But they got all those things anyway, because Zuckerberg built Facebook that way. He could have built it a different way. But he didn't.

                  • dylan604 193 days ago

                    Is Zuckerberg the chicken or the egg? Other sites existed before FB, but FB seemed to get the right formula. As for the evil use of the data captured by/about its users (and even more for its capturing data of non-users), it again seems to be the one that "got it right" first as far as monetizing it goes. This is from the social media view point. This is just from the FB/Zuck perspective. Google is also in different discussion with how it uses Chrome/G Suite apps.

                    • chrischen 193 days ago

                      For most companies it transcends any single individual, but for facebook mr. Zuckerberg has basically complete control of the board and the conpany. Even if he lets facebook be the way it is, he has the power to change it single-handidly.

                    • CalChris 193 days ago

                      > There are almost no real world ramifications from the words he writes on Facebook ...

                      That is the point of what Bashaw is saying. He's saying that Zuckerberg's writing is ineffective because in Orwell's phrase from Politics and the English Language:

                        The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.
                      • appleiigs 193 days ago

                        My impression when i read the article (whether I’m wrong or right) is that the writer is quite young. Not only in their own writing style, but also in the premise. When you’ve been around the block a few times, you don’t care about words and focus on the other persons actions.

                        • darkpuma 193 days ago

                          You should focus on actions rather than words, but that's not the reality of how the world actually works. That's why Zuckerberg bothers with words, and why PR departments exist. Words influence people, even when that seems irrational. Especially when that seems irrational.

                          The author doesn't seem to be saying you should ignore facebook's actions and listen to the words. The author seems to be saying that Zuckerberg is bad at PR. For that to be true, the actions of Zuckerberg and Facebook are implicitly in play. If Zuckerberg's PR is said to be insufficient, it's insufficient in the context of Zuckerberg's actions.

                      • iscrewyou 193 days ago

                        Every time I read or hear something he has to say, I keep thinking to myself: “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”

                        He’s simply disconnected from the world. Still stuck in 2007 with his goals for Facebook and how he wants it to change the world. It has changed the world, but a lot of of the change isn’t pretty.

                        • Despegar 193 days ago

                          Does anyone actually still read Facebook's PR blog posts responding to the latest crisis? I can't think of a more pointless exercise.

                          What I actually look forward to reading after every Facebook crisis is the former Facebook employees on Twitter who rush to their defense every time.

                          This one made me lol irl:


                          • knolan 193 days ago

                            There is no trust to erode.

                            • ori_b 193 days ago

                              And yet, people keep giving them data. There's clearly still trust, and the faster it erodes, the better.

                              • knolan 193 days ago

                                I see it being somewhat like McDonalds. You don’t trust them to care about your health but you like eating there because you don’t value your health all that either. At least not enough to think it’s doing any harm.

                                A lot of people shrug at the idea of Facebook and Google vacuuming up all their data. They don’t think there’s anything about them and their data that’s all that interesting.

                            • CalChris 193 days ago

                              I like the article but the writer really shouldn't blame the false dilemma on classicists. Rhetoric is a different subject entirely. However, pointing out that when the reader picks up on the trope they lose faith in the writer, that was spot on.

                              • britch 193 days ago

                                God it frustrates me when Zuckerberg/Facebook/Twitter attack "gate-keepers" like they aren't ones.

                                What do you call determining what appears in a feed? Even if they're using an algorithm trained on user data, they're still selecting who to highlight and what matters.

                                • yellowapple 193 days ago

                                  Re: #3, what exactly is inherently wrong with changing priorities when something happens to warrant them changing?

                                  If my primary focus for the year was "get into shape", and then my house burns down, should my primary focus for the year not shift to "find a new home"?

                                  • qwagmeyer 193 days ago

                                    Yes, it’s the writing style that’s the problem. Maybe if Mark Zuckerberg changed his writing style, everything would be okay, and we wouldn’t notice so many problems.

                                    • deanjones 193 days ago

                                      Well, it's either his writing style, or all the horrible sh*t his company did.

                                      • tomphoolery 193 days ago

                                        Sorry this is just an old person riffing on the way people younger than him talk. I'd downvote if I could, but HN doesn't let me have nice things.

                                        • PhasmaFelis 193 days ago

                                          No regular users get to downvote articles, as far as I'm aware.

                                        • willart4food 193 days ago

                                          "TRUST" is a scarce currency

                                          • willart4food 193 days ago

                                            Trust is a scarce currency.

                                            • quacktalk 193 days ago

                                              Ha! Fuck facebook. Everything that company pushes is newspeak and doublethink.

                                                War is peace.
                                                Freedom is slavery.
                                                Ignorance is strength.
                                              • darkpuma 193 days ago

                                                Wasn't he getting coached to make himself less awkward in social situations and to come off less sociopathic? I vaguely remember reading an article a few years ago about him recognizing this personal shortcoming and seeking help (good for him!) I hope he got a refund.

                                                • oh_sigh 193 days ago

                                                  You might be thinking of Linus Torvalds.

                                                  • darkpuma 193 days ago

                                                    No no, this was many years ago, not months ago. I've found one of the articles I was thinking of from 2008: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB120465155439210627

                                                    Relevant quotes since it's behind the paywall:

                                                    > "To season himself, Mr. Zuckerberg in recent years has reached out to high-profile mentors like Mr. McNamee and Don Graham, CEO of the Washington Post Co. Last year, Facebook brought in trainers including Bill Clinton's former speaking coach to help the CEO improve his speaking style."

                                                    > "Mr. Zuckerberg sought seasoned help. He brought on Messrs. Yu and Palihapitiya. Michael Sheehan, a communications coach who has advised Mr. Clinton, came in to teach the CEO how to improve his wooden image, in part by coaching him in public speaking."

                                                    I also recall articles about Zuckerberg hiring personality coaches coming out after The Social Network (2010) was released. There has been some revisionist history on HN recently that claims Zuckerberg's PR problems only started in the aftermath of 2016, but he's been in the hot-seat for a bit over a decade now.