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Atomic Hacker News

Jul 6, 2011

Here’s the thing.

Hacker News has not changed. I have.1

As a long-time member of Hacker News it appears that the relative quality and lack-thereof for the link submissions, questions, and commentary has remained stable. There are still very few links of interest to me, but those that are good tend toward great. However, I find myself increasingly frustrated by the signal to noise ratio of its commentary. However, after reflection it’s not obvious that the content of the commentary has changed markedly since my first day. The problem lies with me. That is, after 3.5 years of reading said commentary I’ve developed an uncanny ability to predict the form of almost any comment thread based on the content of the link under discussion.2

This is a gross generalization of course, but as one without much time to spare these days it’s the generalizations that drive my adaptive behavior. That is, while Hacker News in general has become wholly predictable, at the level of the strongest individual contributors it’s as vibrant as ever — perhaps moreso. A killer service named Hacker Follow has allowed me to cherry-pick those commentators who’ve won my heart (so to speak) and I have to admit that I’ve not missed a thing.3

One lesson that I’ve learned in my time on the Internet is especially relevant:

Great commentators transcend context.

This therefore leads into yet another lesson to embrace moving forward:

Hacker News is a community.

Communities become predictable.

Individuals are where it’s at.


  1. And likewise, You have changed… I hope. 

  2. I’m sure that I’ve missed a lot, but the tradeoff has been worth that cost. 

5 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. It seems there are two dynamics at work there:

    1) The pure hackers who want to discuss just the code aspect

    2) The hackers who want to start businesses and whose links are seen as contrary to the mission of #1 — except when they aren’t and get hundreds of upvotes

  2. Name (Required)

    Who do you follow on Hacker Follow?

  3. Name (required)

    Who do you follow on the hacker follow service?

  4. Name

    So, who do you follow, besides patio11?

  5. Succinct lessons. Been building along similar lines.

    Some thoughts triggered by your post.

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