Highlighting Efforts of Creation from Hacker News (From Monday, August 26th, 2013)

Highlighting those that build, and their stories.

I believe everyone who goes to the effort to create something should get the chance to have people see what they create. And if those people like what they see, the creator should know.

Hacker News has great potential to enable this. Hacker News is a community of people interested in building things. And given that most people solve problems of their own, there is a lot of overlap between the target market of an average HN reader’s project, and the site’s audience. But Hacker News fails at highlighting creation.

Individuals work for hours over a weekend, on a personal project they love, and then submit the project. One vote and a comment if they are especially lucky.

Meanwhile, what do we see on the front page? News articles that would be reaching thousands of individuals regardless.

Hacker News possesses an incredible power to encourage individuals to build things or start projects. The news announcement of a large company making the front page of Hacker News won’t impact what they work on the next day. However, for the individual, a positive response from Hacker News is proportionally far more important.

I think a comment reply to me from DjangoReinhardt on Hacker News highlights the issue appropriately:

Also, I wistfully disagree with you about the “highlighting creation” bit. I mean, FSM knows I want to agree with you but my experience so far says otherwise. In all the time I’ve spent on HN (most of it as a lurker) I’ve found HN to be quite snobbish about the show-and-tell attempts.

So, I’m doing a small experiment. Once a week I’m going to highlight those submissions on Hacker News that went ignored, but had hard working and motivated individuals behind them.

A Prototype of My Criteria:

Submitted by someone who doesn’t already have a distribution channel (if they have 1000 followers on twitter, it won’t be on here).

The post is either something someone has built, or is a post that may lead to them building something. (Yes, even if someone just posts an ‘Ask HN: What do you think of X idea?’, I believe they deserve some input).

The post was submitted by the creator.

The Creations


Built: A rails gem that generates bios for hackers.

Builder: Halit Alptekin, 19 years old, a Computer Engineering Student at KTU, currently living in Trabzon, Turkey. Has submitted many efforts of creation to Hacker News in the past — however almost all have only one point.

My suggestions: Halit, firstly — make a new Hacker News account. HN has shadowbanned your account. Secondly, a screenshot of the result would be great to include in your Readme on GitHub.



Built: An online course aimed at teaching web development (free).

Builder: Nico Schuele, a software developer based in Switzerland with close to 20 years of experience.

My thoughts: Looking at Nico’s Hacker News history, he’s gone to quite a bit of effort in posting things related to learning web development. If you’re trying to learn — what’s the real harm in giving your email address and encouraging an individual to keep building.



Built: A simple command line tool and library to auto generate API documentation for Python libraries.

Builder: Andrew Gallant, a Ph.D. candidate in the Computer Science department at Tufts University.

My thoughts: I’ve never written a python library, but this is an awesome creation and worthy of being seen!



Built: Dead simple real time website analytics.

Builder: Andrew Vos, Ruby developer based in London.

My thoughts: Deserves more votes!



Built: A nicely designed url shortener.

Builder: Ian Carroll.

My thoughts: Include a bit more information about the project, but still it should have more votes!



Built: A web framework for prototyping rich APIs that implement the JSON API spec.

Builder: Dali Zheng.

My thoughts: Really, really cool. I’m not the target audience, but the site design is also extremely cool.



Built: An easy to use Wikipedia API for Python.

Builder: Johnathon Goldsmith, a high school student from California.

My thoughts: Awesome. Thankfully, Hacker News placed nicely this time and highlighted this — this was the post that inspired me to write this.


Eight (Disclaimer: My Creations).

Built: Two posts with some of my thoughts on recruiting/employment/hiring.

Builder: Chris Barber, a Computer Science student at Stanford. I believe there are too many things broken in the world for us to not have a larger goal of fixing these.

Reallocating The Highly Skilled To Be Highly Impactful

Visionary Founders

My comments: If you are an engineer in San Francisco or the Valley who a) believes the world needs some serious fixing and b) if Elon Musk formed a new company tomorrow, you would go and work for him, shoot me an email. I’d love to hear your story.

Closing Thoughts

How can this continue to be useful and scalable? It took me a while to collect all this information, but I’m happy to keep doing it in the short term.

Some possibilities:

Just keep doing this — a post on Medium that I’ll repost to Hacker News once a week.

A twitter handle that just posts links to Hacker News posts. Only posts allowed: those by people for whom Hacker News is the best possible distribution channel (too small a project for TechCrunch, doesn’t already have 1000 followers, etc).

A possible selection process for inclusion:A one paragraph bio of the vision behind the project.

In Closing

I’d like to see everything created by an underdog get a chance at an audience on Hacker News. I think they all deserve even just one minute on the front page.

Thanks for reading. Seriously, I really appreciate it.

Discuss on Hacker News.