How Does it Feel to Make the Front Page of Hacker News?

And have 50+ people a minute read your blog post.

There are a fair few posts on “How to get on the front page of Hacker News” but not so many on how it feels if you achieve this.

Firstly, the reaction to my post was genuinely unexpected and overwhelming, it was an entirely new situation for me, as the highest amount of people that had ever read something that I had written before were 600 or so that read How to Hack your Commute to Have More Ideas

Next time you find yourself scrolling down your Twitter feed or checking Facebook for the umpteenth time instead of completing that task you need to get done, do yourself a favour, turn off your laptop, pack up your stuff and……………JUST GO HOME”.

Judging by the reaction this message certainly appeared to strike a chord with people.

Within 24 hours of being posted it had:

  • Spent 10 hours on the front page of Hacker News
  • Had 25,000+ read it
  • Been shared 300+ times across Social Networks
  • Been translated into Japanese
  • Been featured on the Medium front page

This level of exposure was alien to me and led me to experience a strange array of ensuing emotions that appeared to take on four stages.

The Elation

30 minutes after posting it received a couple of up-votes.

At this point, I was delighted. I didn’t expect anyone to really notice the post and I was pleasantly surprised.

Little did I know what was to come…

All of a sudden, I realised the post was on the Front Page, and that’s where things really got interesting.

At it’s peak, the post was being read over 50+times a minute!

I excitedly watched as the post reached

1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 views.

The excitement and adrenaline I felt watching this is hard to describe, but I felt happiness and pride, and wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

Which leads nicely into the next stage…

The Ego

After the initial feeling of humbleness, the monster in me came out.

All of a sudden, I wanted more.

MORE views, MORE up-votes and MORE recommendations.

I was not content with the front page, I wanted the top spot.

To be Numero Uno.

A couple of hours previous I would have been over the moon that 50 people had taken the time to read something I had written, now I felt disappointed when the rate dropped below 50 views a minute.

I reached out to people asking for up-votes.

I gave page view updates to friends via Skype.

I sat at my laptop and permanently pressed refresh on my page view stats and on Hacker News.

I became insufferable.

The Comedown

The initial elation started to dissipate, as my post slowly started moving down the HN front page.

I realised that I would probably never write something so popular again.

I felt shame and embarrassment by my previous excitement and attempts to acquire further attention for the post.

I felt like a hypocrite.

I wrote a post on productivity, and said post resulted in me doing no work that day.

All of a sudden I felt naked, exposed and vulnerable.

The Reflection

This stage is ongoing, although my intention is for it to conclude with this post.

My main takeaway is that you have to take the rough with the smooth.

If you open your writing up using Medium, Twitter, Hacker News etc then you have to accept the fact that there can be negative as well as positive consequences.

It has certainly opened up my eyes to the power of these tools, if you hit the right note with your writing then it has the potential to be read by thousands of people.

These tools enable more and more people to go through this experience with their writing.

Be sure that this is something that you are comfortable with.

And don’t take it all so seriously.

Find me on Twitter @neilswmurray