How to View a Hacker News Commenter’s Oldest Posts

The HN Archaeology Project

Gabriel Weinberg announcing Duck Duck Go on Hacker News

Why

In the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg (the founder of Duck Duck Go), he writes:

DuckDuckGo had a rather uneventful launch, if you can even call it a launch. I posted it to a niche tech site called Hacker News and that was the long and short of it. The post was entitled “What do you think of my new search engine?”

While it was easy enough to find that specific thread using Algolia’s Hacker News Search Engine this got me curious to see what else Gabriel was up to back in the early days of Hacker News ~8 years ago…

A mid-2007 thread Gabriel participated in about Facebook’s incredibly high valuation

In the thread above Gabriel (epi0Bauqu) is lambasting Facebook’s naivety in turning down a $6 Billion dollar acquisition offer in mid-2007. As we now know, Facebook eventually IPOed for $104 Billion in 2012. This reminds me of 2015/2016’s debates on Snapchat and their various acquisition offers… History repeating itself and all. Unsurprisingly, sage pg (Paul Graham) is quite bullish on Facebook:

Paul Graham defending Facebook’s valuation

Searching other top HN commenters like Patrick McKenzie (patio11), Thomas Ptacek (tptacek), and Paul Graham himself (pg) reveal other gems. Please tweet or email any good ones you find!

Now without further adieu, here is the method:

Instructions

  1. Paste the following URL into your browser: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/user/pg.json?print=pretty (replacing the ‘pg’ with whichever username you chose)
  2. What you see is a list of ids of that user’s commenters & submissions in reverse-chronological order. Scroll down to the very bottom and copy one of the numbers (any number from the 4th or 5th row from the bottom is a probably a good place to start)
  3. Paste the following URL into your browser: https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=pg&next=2495 (replacing ‘pg’ with whichever username you chose in #1 and replacing the ‘2495’ which whatever number you chose in #3)
  4. Enjoy! Also the Internet Archive is your friend here, since many submission URLs are now defunct.

If this seems to be something other people are interested in then it would make sense to build a web app to automate some of the tedium. Another thing I’ve wanted to build is a Twitter-style embed of individual Hacker News comments (which would have come in handy for this article).

Email me if you are interested in collaborating!


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