|Here at HN HQ we've been wondering: if Hacker News could fund startups, what startups would it fund?|
Hacker News users have many diverse perspectives on technology and business. Perhaps if HN picked startups, it would pick differently than YC. Maybe different startups would be motivated to apply, if they knew that the interviewing and deciding would be done by the HN community. Interesting things might happen, or they might not. We'd have to try it and see.
I ran this by Sam and he ran it by Kevin and we all got excited, so we're going to try this as an experiment. Starting today, there's a new track for YC applications: applying directly to the Hacker News community. We'll call it "Apply HN". Note that word experiment! We'll start small and figure it out as we go. But here are the initial conditions.
YC’s Fellowship program will fund a minimum of 2 startups selected by the HN community for this summer's F3 batch. (They name their batches sequentially.) The Fellowship is the YC program that fits best here since it’s designed to be experimental and inclusive and doesn’t require people to move to the Bay Area.
All the interviewing and evaluating will be done in regular HN threads, and everyone is welcome to participate. For this summer's batch, Apply HN will accept applications starting now and ending April 27.
If you'd like to apply to the HN community for YCF funding, simply post a submission whose title begins with "Apply HN" and explain what your startup does. Hopefully community members will ask you questions and good discussion will ensue.
If you'd like to help pick which startups to fund, simply jump into any Apply HN thread that interests you. Ask questions and post comments that you think will help the community make the best decisions. These will be regular threads, with all the same voting and so on, but with one additional rule: Be Nice.
Be Nice is a stronger version of our usual rule, Be Civil. Anybody who applies to HN in public this way is putting both themselves and their baby in a super vulnerable position. We're going to rise to the occasion by being not only civil, but nice. When interviewing startups, by all means be curious and probing—but only if you can also be nice. The word "nice" originally meant "not knowing". Then later it meant "precise and careful". And now it means "kind and thoughtful". Let's put all those qualities together.
At the end of the month, we'll rank the startups and YC will fund two. The ranking will depend both on upvotes and on the quality of discussion, similar to how the ranking of stories works. We can talk about this in the comments, but to answer one question I know will come up: Upvotes are an important factor but they're too brittle to rely on exclusively; doing so would encourage the wrong kind of trying to game the system. So we're going to gauge community interest both by upvotes and comments, and in case of doubt I'll make the final call—or better, figure out a way to put the final call to the community.
That's what we're thinking so far. If it seems unstructured, that's on purpose: we don't want to bias it along the lines of how YC already operates. We want to see what the community comes up with.
Questions or suggestions? Let's discuss and refine this together.
Edit: As discussed below, we'll add a top link for these a la /ask and /show. I won't get to that till later, though, so in the meantime, use the following link to find Apply HN discussions: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=%22apply%20hn%22&sort=byDate&d...
Edit 2: Here's the link describing how YCF works: https://fellowship.ycombinator.com/faq/. Read it to make sure you're eligible. It's a lot more flexible than YC Core, but there are still some restrictions.
Edit 3: There's now a ranked page of applications at https://news.ycombinator.com/applyhn, a complete list at https://news.ycombinator.com/applynew, and a random sample at https://news.ycombinator.com/applyrand.