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What will get to the entrance web page of Hacker Information?

What will get to the entrance web page of Hacker Information?

2023-07-04 12:53:41

In my job as technical author / marketer1, the most typical query I get from corporations I work with is “how can we get to the entrance web page of Hacker Information?” And as somebody whose writing has been on stated entrance web page many occasions, I’ll let you know: I’ve no clue!

Typically it looks like good, prime quality writing at all times finds its solution to the entrance web page; different occasions, it feels just like the mods are out to get you. So I began (very manually) gathering knowledge on what the highest 30 posts on HN are on the finish of any given day.

Listed below are the highlights (FP = Entrance Web page):

  • Weblog posts (45%) are the most well-liked kind of content material on the FP
  • A weblog put up from a company entity solely has a 8% shot at making the FP
  • 25% of FP posts are weblog posts from engineers on their private blogs/websites or OSS
  • 36% of FP posts are information articles, and the (slight) majority of them are literally not about software program/{hardware}
  • ShowHN posts virtually by no means make the entrance web page (<2%)

Right here’s the breakdown extra visually:

Earlier than some extra evaluation and some extra charts, I need to preface this put up by saying that I don’t imply to touch upon the inherent worth of getting your content material to the entrance web page of Hacker Information. Whether or not that is the fitting aim, or if maybe it is best to pursue a distinct aim like variety of upvotes, or perhaps feedback, or perhaps indignant feedback, is a dialogue for an additional put up.

How I gathered and categorized the info

The best way I gathered this (small) knowledge set was by manually2 combing by means of the highest 30 posts on Hacker Information utilizing the past characteristic. For every put up, I clicked on the hyperlink to see what the content material was about, who printed it, and the place. Partially upfront, after which partially on the fly the extra stuff I noticed, I categorized every put up right into a class. Since my essential focus is technical writing and advertising, the classes I selected relate to that lens:

  • Information / opinion articles in media publications
  • Educational journals and papers
  • Weblog posts
    • Private weblog vs. a company weblog vs. an open supply entity
    • Kinds of content material: tutorials, thought management, and so forth.
  • Hiring bulletins
  • ShowHN
  • Misc.
    • Repo hyperlinks
    • Non-blog web sites
    • Tweets, Reddit posts, and so forth.

These classes have wonderful protection (Misc. <5%) regardless of them being oddly particular. You’ll be able to see that I wasn’t notably involved with the subject material per se (every little thing is about Rust anyway) however extra the format and the authoring entity.

The astute reader will notice a number of limitations of the info set.

First, the info I collected represents what completed the day on the entrance web page of Hacker Information. However many objects will be on the entrance web page over the course of a given day, after which finish the day some place else (maybe quantity 35, or 67). What “will get to” the entrance web page – a gaggle that comprises, and exceeds the dimensions of, what “ends” on the entrance web page – is a richer knowledge set however I don’t have entry to it / it might not exist.

Second, and maybe extra importantly, the dataset doesn’t file the makes an attempt made to get to the entrance web page, i.e. all posts on Hacker Information in a given day. It’s attainable that there are orders of magnitude extra weblog posts posted however fewer that make the FP, whereas 95% of any educational paper submitted makes the entrance web page (excessive figures used for illustrative functions). So for simplicity, I’ll say “the probability of creating the FP” which assumes a relentless fee of conversion from put up to FP throughout completely different classes.

Limitations apart, the outcomes began to converge very clearly after solely 5 or 6 days of information, though there have been a number of outlier days with spikes in a specific class. In complete I collected and sifted by means of 30 days price of information, and hope so as to add extra sooner or later.

What sorts of weblog posts get to the entrance web page?

Statistically, your finest shot of getting your writing to the entrance web page of Hacker Information is by writing one thing (with nothing to advertise) in your private web site or weblog. 26% of complete FP posts are blogs like this, whereas solely 11% of complete FP posts (or 24% of FP weblog posts) got here from company3 entities on their company blogs or web sites. 20% of weblog posts are from some kind of open supply entity (often launches).

As regards to what to put up, the Hacker News guidelines say:

On-Matter: Something that good hackers would discover attention-grabbing. That features greater than hacking and startups. In the event you needed to cut back it to a sentence, the reply could be: something that gratifies one’s mental curiosity.

and that is just about the story with what weblog posts make the FP.

Of these company weblog posts, about 40% of them are product bulletins or launches; the remaining are much less promotional content material codecs like technical tutorials. A standard query I get is “how can we get our product launch on the entrance web page of HackerNews?” and the reply is that it’s statistically4 extremely unlikely (~4%) for that to occur. And of these product bulletins that made the FP, a great deal of them are (a) from established corporations and merchandise like Apple, (b) posted organically by the group, and (c) about {hardware} and gaming. Not your software program startup.

Private weblog posts, although, are extremely common on the FP. They span the gamut from tutorials to “how I constructed ___” kind posts, and naturally the perennial “I made a factor.” Listed below are a number of examples of non-public weblog posts that made the FP:

The widespread thread is that they’re non-promotional, and sometimes deal with a private pursuit of the writer5.

My private expertise writing for company entities says that helpful tutorials and attention-grabbing tales do one of the best. The newest put up I wrote that made it to #1 was a tutorial for PlanetScale about how database sharding works (HN put up here). Just a few others I wrote that made the FP have been all non-promotional:

  • My two tales for Retool about why Accenture (link) and Oracle (link) are price a lot cash
  • My weblog put up for WorkOS about finest practices for constructing webhooks (link)
  • My “thought management” for PlanetScale about DBA expertise (link)

These successes reside subsequent door to an enormous graveyard of weblog posts I’ve written that I thought have been actually good, however Hacker Information didn’t. Or maybe randomness simply reared its ugly head.

See Also

What varieties of reports will get to the entrance web page?

The second greatest class of posts that make the entrance web page of Hacker Information is (shocker) information, which I outline right here as a narrative or opinion piece printed by a media group. 36% of FP objects are information, which is lots!

Whereas virtually all the information that makes the FP is STEM associated, the vast majority of it (properly, by a number of share factors) doesn’t relate to software program or {hardware}. There are a number of articles about area exploration and rockets, biology and chemistry, and physics, however fewer about code and SaaS and issues like that.

It’s price noting that I didn’t see a single article from TechCrunch in your entire dataset I gathered, regardless of there being loads of articles for locations just like the Verge, Wired, and so forth. A cursory search utilizing Algolia’s Search HackerNews tool, ordered by variety of upvotes, reveals that HackerNews actually doesn’t like TechCrunch very a lot.

Miscellaneous findings and different issues

6% of things on the entrance web page are educational papers, which is greater than I assumed.

ShowHN could be very precious, however shouldn’t be more likely to land your product on the entrance web page.

Tweets and tweet threads generally make the entrance web page.

It’s unusual for hiring or launch posts – the 2 varieties of posts which might be reserved for YC corporations, and “artificially” promoted by moderators – to make the entrance web page.

You’ll be able to entry the underlying dataset here.

I need to thank Max Woolf (who might recall interviewing me for a Knowledge Science job at Buzzfeed that I fortunately didn’t take) for the superb “Hacker News Undocumented” useful resource. It was tremendously useful.


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