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What happens when your article gets on second page of hackernews - 2024

·958 words·5 mins
Hn Analytics
pdyc
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pdyc
Table of Contents

TLDR; Details of traffic volume and other insights when page is featured on hackernews and authors lame attempt at humor

Skip directly to traffic insights if you don't want to read the background story

How to get featured on hackernews

In case you're wondering why I'm writing about getting on the second page of HN instead of the first, it's because that's where I've been able to reach. So, I can only talk about what happens when you hit the second page of HN.

Before we get into traffic details, let me share with you how you can do it too! After all, what's the point of getting traffic if you can't replicate it, right?

Choosing Right Content

The first step is to choose your content wisely. To come up with content, you should be ignorant about normal things that other developers know. There's a reason why they say ignorance is bliss. In my case, I didn't know that it's even possible to commit parts of a file in git. I dutifully created patches and applied them, wasting a lot of time on something that could be done with the click of a button. Luckily for me, I was employed while I was doing this, so I also got paid for it. I don't enjoy that luxury anymore as I have become self-employed (please buy my product Easyanlytics I compel you by the power of Jesus Christ).

Another underrated skill is to keep clicking randomly on whatever is clickable, or not, just to see what happens. I think every kid has this talent, but our system destroys it. I am happy to inform you that I still possess this talent, and that led me to click on a hunk just to see what happens. This is how I discovered that it's possible to commit individual hunks of a file in git and wrote an article that featured on HN.

Sharing

Who shares the content is also important. For example, I am the author of this post, and I shared it on HN, but it didn't go anywhere. However, when the same content was shared by another user, it got picked up and received a lot of comments and upvotes. The best strategy in this case is to pray! Praying to the lord is like option trading, where I lost all my money, but that's a different story. You see, if God isn't there, your downside is limited by the time you waste in praying. But if God is there, you have unlimited upside, just like options.

Timing

The next step is timing, and you should choose it very carefully. I chose it using a random number generator, and it led me nowhere. To get the timing right, please contact user thunderbong. Only they knows why they shared the article at the time they decided to share it.

Now that we've covered all the points to make your article go viral on Hacker News, let's get down to the actual traffic stats.

Traffic Insights

traffic volume HN effect

In total, there were approximately 5.2K Views with approx 3.9K Unique Visitors

total traffic volume output

Out of this, HN contributed to nearly 5K Views

traffic from HN

So, featuring on the second page should give you something in this range.

Incorrect Assumption 1: Primary device

Since Hacker News is a technical site, I incorrectly assumed that most people would be accessing it from a laptop, desktop, or tablet. However, more than 50% of the traffic was from mobile devices. It was eye-opening, and I'm glad my sites work well on mobile. For other developers, do make sure that your product or site is mobile-friendly.

traffic from HN mobile

Incorrect Assumption 2: Location of traffic

Since India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have a significant English-speaking population and decent representation on Hacker News, my assumption was that I would get decent traffic from these countries. However, traffic from these countries was less than 3%, which was surprising.

Incorrect Assumption 3: Article content

This is unrelated, but I thought this article would do well on Hacker News, since I am a long-time lurker and this article squarely fits in HN's interest zone. However, for some reason, it didn't.

German Timezone: All of a sudden, I started getting traffic from Germany. I was wondering what was happening; was the article shared on some German list? But the referrer was pointing to Hacker News. The mystery was solved when I tallied it with the German timezone-it was just Germans waking up! 😉

Viewing habits: Another interesting thing was that Hacker News users were laser-targeted on the article itself and didn't explore other articles. This is different from other social media traffic where at least 20% of the users explore other related links; it was less than 1% in the case of Hacker News.

Web of HN: Once an article gets featured on Hacker News, it is picked up by multiple sites that use Hacker News to filter quality posts. Some of them are country-specific; for example, I discovered Dizkaz, which primarily serves Chinese readers. There are also alternate Hacker News readers like Hckrnews and specialized developer forums like Daily dev. It was quite fascinating to discover these secondary sources.

Diverse Viewers: I also managed to get one viewer using FreeBSD OS and another viewer with the PaleMoon browser. I'll be careful about making assumptions about user's operating systems and browsers from next time onwards.

Conclusion

I got some interesting stats from my article getting featured on HN's second page. I was humbled by the data as I had some incorrect notions about viewer's devices. One thing I'm interested in is getting the percentage of viewers disabling JavaScript, but I don't think it's possible since trackers are generally JavaScript-based, and I don't want to use a tracking pixel to get this data.

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