Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reddit vs Hacker News vs Twitter

  • Deeply technical stories might get up to about 5K visitors from  HackerNews (“HN”) and 10K from reddit/r/programming (“proggit”)
  • Deeply controversial ‘Cogs Bad' -type posts still get under 10K from HN, but can get 40K+ from proggit
  • Hacker News is a much stabler community; if you have posted stories in succession, the same 5K+ visitors coming back each time
  • Reddit is a flash crowd; they claim 350K+ subscribers, but that number doesn’t mean much; very few clickers on any given story are repeat
  • If a story gets on the front page of both at the same time, you get might get more people from HN than proggit
  • But the story dies a lot sooner on HackerNews; proggit can keep people streaming in for a whole day
  • Being very top spot on HN is a dramatic visit booster; you can watch in Google Analytics Real Time the sudden influx of visitors when you get sorted to top; and then a trickle again as you drop to second place; Google Analytics Real Time is gamification for blogging
  • Google Analytics doesn’t count people using noscript (when there are so many technical avenues they could pursue instead)

Very very few people who read a blog post go back to the link aggregation site and vote on it:

  • About 100 to 1 visitors to points seems about right; if a story has 100 points, its likely 10K people read it.  That’s right; two orders of magnitude!
  • West coasters up-vote less than Europeans; maybe they are busier?  Or my content is more pleasing to Europeans?
  • The per-page time is actually quite high; often over 5 minutes on average for a lot of my stories even when its a big crowd.  I suspect some subtle misreading of Google Analytics on my part, or else people might actually be reading the whole thing carefully!?
  • I speculate that most HN readers are not actually logged in

Most compliments are never given:

  • If someone likes a post, they probably say nothing
  • A comment on the blog is going to be very polite and constructive
  • A comment on HN is going to be mature and reasoned; often expanding or exploring technical issues raised
  • People comment on proggit to complain about a story
  • Never bother mentioning Haskell.  That crowd has this circular argument going ;)

Its lovely to read the tweets:

  • A tweet is the biggest compliment of all; 140 chars to summarise the post really makes it obvious that the tweeter groks it; and its almost never negative
  • Nobody actually follows the links in tweets though; click-through is often in the low digits per tweet

This is like search-engine-optimisation; now go shower!

  • The ideal proggit time is Sunday daytime in the states; it gets to the top for Europe’s Monday, and is still up there for stateside Monday
  • The ideal HN time is a weekday European afternoon; discerning European votes can get the post onto the front page in time for a stateside morning
  • Proggit, stories get stuck in spam filters.  Then it often gets mercilessly down-voted by people not leaving comments and so it dies
  • On HN, stories start in the ‘newest' fire-hose; the click rate here is in the low double digits, but these early-clickers are far more likely to go back and up-vote, so a story can gather the 3 or 5 votes it needs to get on the front-page.  Once on the front page, its onwards and upwards

Naturally, I turn to technology to tame coder social ills: self-organising link aggregation.


  • as seen on HN
  • as seen on reddit (not proggit yet)
  • need I repeat that thing about how sad it is that nobody up-votes things they like reading? ;)


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