I Was On Page One of Hacker News—Here's What I Learned

Hacker News is awesome. I browse the site every day because love the continual stream of relevant stories and articles for tech-savvy people. Stories there are sorted by using an algorithm based upon time and community up-votes, among other things. This means that the first page of results is an ever-changing set of compelling and intellectually revealing articles.

My phone started going crazy with email alerts on Sunday afternoon. I was receiving a bunch of email alerts for new Disqus comments on my blog. An opinion piece that I had written in January 2014 was apparently relevant again. After about the fourth alert in as many minutes, I figured the article had been linked to from someone else's recent blog post. After about 10 email alerts, I decided to take a look. Sure enough, there I was on page one of Hacker News. My article peaked in the top 10 and stayed on page one for about 12 hours. Actually, I have no idea how I got there. Someone posted it and it go up-voted and things went from there. As of this moment, Monday morning, the HN thread has 106 comments and my blog has 120.

Almost without exception, I was highly impressed with the quality of conversation on the HN thread. While not all of the comments were favorable of my article, virtually all comments were well-reasoned and thoughtful. This speaks volumes about the quality of people on Hacker News. I imagine it's because HN attracts people who are passionate about their craft. A lot of other forums degrade into flame wars that so easily get off track the moment there's a spelink mistake or other grammatical issue instead of staying focused on the content.

Key Take-aways:

  • Listening and truly hearing what other people not just say, but mean is hard.
  • People have divergent viewpoints—that's okay.
  • People's life experiences may not allow them to understand your position.
  • Give respect to their views.
  • There's enough room in the technical domain for multiple solutions to a problem.
  • Divergent views can make you re-evaluate your opinion—this is a good thing.
  • Don't dig in and ignore their views—allow yourself to be influenced by others.
  • Don't take it personally—you're just another blog post to them.
  • You can't convince everyone.
  • Allow people to be wrong on the internet.
  • Word choice in a blog post (or follow-up comment) matters a great deal.
  • When writing about a solution to a problem, it may be worth discussing it from several angles to encompass a larger audience.
  • Enjoy your five minutes of fame. You never know when or if you'll see it again.

My brief time on Hacker News was very informative and educational. I'm glad I was able to experience it. The people on that site are first class and their viewpoints carry weight and deserve appropriate consideration.


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