James Morris - JMOZ

Webmaster in '97.

The Hacker News Effect

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Last week I submitted a post to Hacker News which managed to make it to #5 on the front page. The post in question, Learning Python the pragmatic way, is by far the most successful post I’ve launched. You can view it on HN here.

I submitted it at around 1pm and bit by bit watched the number of real-time visitors in analytics increase to a peak of around 220 concurrent viewers. The popularity of the post peaked at around 3pm with the majority of 2007 hits coming from HN and Twitter.

Hacker News

I expected the post would get picked up a little bit, due to the recognisable (if you know about Python) title, but not to the extent it did. You can see the performance at HN on this graph.

  • It made it to #4 on the HN front page.
  • The post got 73 points.
  • There were 28 comments, largely positive with people relating their learning and coding experiences.
  • From the day of submission (29th Nov) till today (4th Dec), the post has had 13758 pageviews with an average of 5 minutes on page.
  • About 7000 pageviews came from HN.

I was most surprised by the level of conversation on HN. Lots of positive comments but with a couple of pedantic criticisms. I was also surprised and appreciative that a couple of people attempted to back me up over the criticism!

Twitter

Once it gained traction on HN, the post quickly spread to Twitter. My phone started going off with people @mentioning me with a link to the post. The original tweet that my blogging app sent out received no retweets and was hardly noticed; most of it stemmed from a HN tweet and people sharing it using their own methods.

  • The tweet by @newsycombinator was a Top Tweet and received 24 retweets and 83 favourites.
  • Searching for the url on Twitter showed 78 tweets.
  • I was @mentioned by other users with a link to the article 14 times.
  • Gained around 13 related or interested followers.
  • About 1000 pageviews came from Twitter.

My blog

On average I get around 150 visits to my blog a day. From the 30th - 4th I’ve had around 13k visits and the visits per day are now tailing off and returning near to normal.

I received 6 comments, all positive on the actual post page, but the majority were on HN.

What I’ve learnt

When I came up with the post, everything revolved around the title - I knew it would be recognisable and slightly provocative. The problem was relating the content to the title which I tried to do as much as possible, but ultimately I just wanted to write about my stack and show some code examples.

I expected the criticism from the nerds but was blown away by the amount of positive feedback and Tweets directed at me.

This was the most effort I’ve put into a post; previous ones have just basically been code examples with descriptions. This shows if you put some work in and relate to people your post could do well!

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