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Ask HN: Which sites you visit on a regular basis for knowledge and inspiration?
331 points by mgos on July 8, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 153 comments

Might sound dull, but I recommend Wikipedia.

There is a word for it, which I forgot, when you look something up on Wikipedia, the article contains a link to another article, and you go, "Oooh, that sounds interesting", open it in another tab, then, when reading the second article, you come across two or three more of such links, and before you know what is going on, you have dozens of tabs open. The only limit is your patience and your computer's RAM.

Eventually you'll end up reading articles that are not even remotely related to your initial inquiry, but highly interesting nonetheless.

I built an app based on that exact concept: http://thewikigame.com which has been running for many years, and is now quite popular.

The database of the site now contains a large record of millions of game plays of players trying to go from one Wikipedia link to another. See here for some interesting academic research that has been done on the site's dataset: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jSGFRZYrJnlDUBhGbQrO9e-n...

I think that hacker news might have given it a hug of death, I currently have a 'site down' alert when viewing it.

Hehe, that looks like a lot of fun!

I know what I'll be doing next weekend! :)

Please make an Android version ty

Wikipedia is probably the most dangerous procrastination tool on the net. There's not limit there, the rabbit hole just goes deeper and deeper.

tvtropes should also be considered in this category.

Oh my, yes! I went there to look up one term, and before I knew it the entire afternoon had gone by.

OTOH, I learned a lot that afternoon. Watching TV programs has never been the same.

There's also http://www.scholarpedia.org/ which is basically wikipedia but written by college professors and domain field experts. It goes very in depth on many topics.


An interesting side note: if you repeatedly click the first link at the beginning of any wikipedia article (except links in parenthesis) you will always end up at Philosophy.

If you start with Mathematics, you'll end up in a loop: Mathematics > Quantity > Magnitude (mathematics) > Mathematics.

Ignoring this backlink, though, it would work:

Mathematics > Quantity > Magnitude (mathematics) > Mathematical object > Abstract and concrete > Referent > Linguistics > Science > Knowledge > Fact > Verificationism > Philosophy

Also, starting with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Internationaux_de_Strasbo... (random page) you get into loop around "Languages".

But if the algorithm should ignore the already visited links then it would probably work because the pages usually describe something using the higher level concepts first. The question is how much larger the pool of "always found" pages becomes.

Test of n = 1: ("Random article") -> Yūyūki -> 1989 in video gaming -> Golden Joystick Awards -> Video game -> Electronic game -> Game -> Play (activity) -> Psychology -> Behavior -> American English -> Variety (linguistics) -> Sociolinguistics -> Society -> Social group -> Social science -> Discipline (academia) -> Knowledge -> Fact -> Verificationism -> Philosophy

That was fun!

I started with 'God of War (2018 video game)' and ended up at 'Philosophy'!

The danger isn't reading it, it's writing in it. It could literally drive you to suicide. It did for me, though of course I survived.

It's called link diving


I agree. I was pleasantly surprised by the Wikipedia iOS app, it's really addictive https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wikipedia/id324715238?mt=8

a rabbit hole?


https://theconversation.com/ - Great source of news and analysis of everything. Articles by academics and researchers. Claims almost always backed with evidence.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/ - Articles about some of the most interesting bleeding-edge high-tech research.

https://arstechnica.com/ - Tech and tech-related news.

Well the conversation might say their claims are backed up etc. but so do most other news outlets of scale. Eventually they still have clear, inevitable political leanings and bias there, just as every other news outlet.

Any suggestions for which are the least biased news source?

http://highscalability.com/ - weekly newsletter about scalability, distributed computing, computer science, and other relevant things. I don't think it gets attention it deserves - it's really, really good and contains wealth of (mostly) timeless information.

Also, Reddit. Not the default front-page stuff, of course, but more in-depth and smaller subreddits, such as /r/netsec, /r/financialindependence, or /r/rust - there's a multitude of nice focused communities. Occassionally even /r/programming is more interesting than Hacker News though :)

Nautilus - http://nautil.us/ - Science magazine with great art

The Economist - https://www.economist.com/ - I like that they do articles about places all over the world

Find Lectures - https://www.findlectures.com/ - Search engine focused on collecting talks

I also collect book recommendations from HN, people I follow on Twitter in an Amazon wishlist.

The Morning Paper (https://blog.acolyer.org/) is a nice way to learn about research happening outside my own little bubble.

I also LOVE the Morning Paper.

A few sites from my newsfeed (I use Newsblur):

    Hacker News (of course)
    Ars Technica
    Angry Asian Man
    Climate Denial Crock of the Week
    Cool Tools
    Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
    ESA Top News (Euro. Space Agency)
    Jewish Daily Forward
    Jonesblog (retinal neuroscientist and photographer:http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/about/)
    NASA Image of the Day
    Physical Review Letters
    Not Even Wrong
    Planet Clojure
    Retraction Watch
    New York Times
    WTOP (local news)
    Schneier on Security
    Slate Star Codex
    Space Safety Magazine
    CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (highly recommended)
    Stories from the trauma bay

Google News - Love how it aggregates news across multiple sources.

Google Trends - To understand what people are searching for

Reddit - Treasure trove of opinions and insights

Hacker News - Quality tech news and opinions

For my own use, I built a simple site to browse all of these sites from one place effectively: https://newsfeed.one/

You lost me at

> Hacker News - Quality tech news and opinions

we all love to rag on HN (myself included) yet we all keep comin' back.

I mean this is the nature of the web. To be honest HN is already the best we can get compared with most alternatives. That's why.

This is my favorite one:


Quanta articles are always extremely enlightening, interesting and well written.

Yup, I think Quanta and Nautilus feature the best science writing in the world.

A couple that haven't yet been mentioned:

American Scientist (distinct from Scientific American) [https://www.americanscientist.org/] for science, engineering and technology.

Foreign Affairs [https://www.foreignaffairs.com/] for international relations and politics.

although I actually switched back to reading these (and others) in ink-on-paper format, which I've found helps me focus much better.

EDIT: Also, Philosophy Now [https://philosophynow.org/] for more abstract ideas.

These are bimonthly publications, and all worth paying money for.

I try to limit it to the following:

US Gamer: https://www.usgamer.net

Giant Bomb: https://www.giantbomb.com (I'm premium subscriber)

Ars Technica: https://arstechnica.com

NeoGAF: https://www.neogaf.com (I try not to sometimes as it's a time sink, but it's fun, mindless and stressless.)


Hacker News of course.

I try to stay away from Reddit and as it's a time sink for me and I find can stress me mentally.

+1 for gwern, I enjoy his monthly newsletter. Still not sure how that guy gets so much reading and writing done

I like to read at least one post on https://www.indiehackers.com/ to keep me motivated to make my side project successful.

I also read the daily email from http://oppsdaily.com/ to see if there is a problem that I can solve that someone is willing to pay for.

Not a site per say, but I check out PBS Digital Studios daily on youtube. Namely:

Infinite Series - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs4aHmggTfFrpkPcWSaBN9g (I never thought I would find a math series one of my favorite channels)

SpaceTime - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7_gcs09iThXybpVgjHZ_7g

Crash Course - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6b17PVsYBQ0ip5gyeme-Q

When done properly, web video/animated content can greatly enhance learning abstract, obtuse material and can be worth 1000 words per second. From Infinite Series, I finally got the gist of quantum computing.

I hate newsflood. I figure if it's important enough it will either float up to


or to the Economist (which I order-but I tend to listen most of the articles as the audio comes free for subscribers and is of excellent quality).

I try to read books nowadays more than random blogposts. Makes my monkeybrain happier (and I secretly wish wiser).

We're subscribed to the same newsfeeds. In addition, I only look at hacker news through the weekly newsletter, in order to avoid the dopamine addiction of checking multiple times a day.

As for the The Economist, I've found that they always gives a great dose of history and context to their articles, which is what I would be searching for in reddit anyway, so I've found reddit to be a lot less useful nowadays.


Definitively non-tech, but full of knowledge and inspiration.

Hacker News, Marginal Revolution and the Financial Times. Reddit mostly for leisure, but occasionally also for knowledge and inspiration.

Recently I've tried to make my procrastination more useful, and read random Wikipedia articles instead browsing news sites. Let's see if the habit sticks.

I tried doing the same thing, now on my laptop I've installed Redirector chrome extension[0]. Every time I try going on Reddit or HN I get a random wiki article. I've found myself using my phone more often, or incognito(extension disabled) to browse those sites.


I mostly uses Hacker News. From there, it leads me to site such as HighScalability, then Medium engineering blog of company or individual developer. Once you like something, they suggest other thing and I go from there.

I also try to visit engineering blog of company that I like such as Github, Etsy, Segment, Stripe and learn from their blog. They usually have very good article about what really happening at a real company and what they do to solve.

Then I also use Youtube, subscirbe to Confreaks, and again, whenever I like some video, they suggest something very close to what I like.

Then sometimes ago, I started to collect links and realize I should share with the world and start this site: https://betterdev.link/

Aeon: https://aeon.co

Stunning art, beautiful and thoughtful essays, ideas and videos.

I like the curated, summarized "weekly newsletters", one of them is http://javascriptweekly.com/ but there are more.

I visit Raymond Chen's blog[0] every weekday.

He posts content on Windows internals, Win32 APIs, and explanations for Windows behavior.

If you program for Win32 then reading his blog will identify bugs in your code[1].

[0] https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/

[1] http://www.virtualdub.org/blog/pivot/entry.php?id=57

Edited for formatting and to omit needless words

Blogs by cs profs.. mostly theory of compsci guys. Always interesting to see what they think about current events/ what latest cs theory stuff is like...although often times I can only recall a couple words in their posts from the discrete math courses all those years ago.

http://blog.computationalcomplexity.org/ is a pretty good one

Do you have more recommendations except that one?

Scott Aaronson's blog is solid.

Some of the only decent writing I ever see on the web:


It's brief, unapologetic, patient explanations about specific cases in law that touch on popular topics. It really shows how non-black-and-white the world is and especially how bringing knowledge to it gives you clarity, even when you're not in total agreement.

A few years ago it was https://coursera.org - they were a powerful beacon of high-quality knowledge first-hand from world-class experts. I still try to learn as much as possible there, but my feeling of the site being intrusively optimized for business and short-term gain is increasing every day.


Curated collections of long-form journalism.

Edit: Forgot to add Codex 99, '...an occasionally updated website about art, design and history, except when it’s about something else altogether." http://www.codex99.com

Daily - Mostly Tech / Science. I love hacker news as it covers basic science as well. From discovery of planets, to Gene editing. Hacker News :) http://techmeme.com/ https://slashdot.org/

Weekly - World http://kottke.org/ https://www.edge.org/ Youtube App on Ipad, Subscription to Joe Rogen, Tim Ferris, and many others Podcasters like these mostly point out to any random topic under the sun, and the discussion is Deep. Example - check out these podcasts and their discussion on Ethics, AI, Health, Finance and Trump :)

Random Facebook - mostly from friends and of personal nature, but I do visit resources they point out

You need http://skimfeed.com in your life.

An aggregator composed of other news aggregators. As a concept it is great, but it will never come close to platforms like reddit. It's like newspapers, most of them just buy the news from agencies then complain about the decline of the (traditional) industry. An aggregator without curation will be so redundant and boring...

Instead look at those places that have something special and make you come back. They all have some differentiating factor. The WSJ from time to time produces high quality non-redundant content. The comments or content produced by users on HN and reddit are sometimes better than the news elsewhere.

Curation and the user base confer a site personality. This is why places like HN or reddit are so popular. Reddit offers a very high degree of segmentation to users through subreddit subscriptions. This allows users with perhaps very different personalities to get along by only focusing on things they have in common. Not only that, it incentives users to create, share and enjoy content together.

Y combinator has a true commitment to provide a simple platform to a user niche they are interested in. In contrast to the laissez faire curation approach of reddit, the strategy of HN is not as broad but for this specific niche is of higher quality. Although sometimes HN is used for Y combinator's purposes, they don't abuse it and many times the interests are aligned with most of their user base.

Google RSS Reader was my defacto, for exactly this purpose. Some were direct feeds from NYT, TechCrunch, etc but many were simply, the topic searches and RSS feed obtained from those. I miss those days.

Google News does allow you some personalization. But, I am big fan of river of news concept (Dave Winer). There are many solutions still, but I am limiting my media consumption and hacker news and couple of other sites faily satisfy the need.

Someone had mentioned skimfeed previously on here, and ever since I have always had a tab of it opened/pinned!

Yeah, that's a good one.:)

There's of course Ars Technica, but for finance-meets-technology-meets-basic-socioeconomics nothing beats Matt Levine's Money Stuff.

Archive and RSS feed link here: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/topics/money-stuff

My library physics books section.

Some time ago I built https://10hn.pancik.com/ to aggregate and rank interesting articles and make them easily readable on the phone. There are days when I don't read anything else, just swiping through 10HN reading few long reads.

Not sure if you care, but when first opening the website - hitting the right arrow doesn't work (you have to click first).

Also down arrow doesn't scroll as expected (maybe this is intentional).

Thank you! I definitely care and it's on my todo list. I use it mainly on a phone so naturally I keep forgetting to get to it.

- Daily, the full episode: https://www.youtube.com/user/PBSNewsHour/videos

- HN

- A whole bunch of other site/blog/channels as feed that I look at when I have time.

https://www.brainpickings.org/ - Great website dealing with literary works and thoughts of humanities greatest minds.

I formatted my list with names rather than URLs, but now I see the advantage of doing it your way. At a glance I can see that three of your sites are in my browser history.

I like to read articles on medium, but a particular site I like is scotch.io I myself write on a blog. Unfortunately it is in portuguese so you may not understand. But in case you want to check you can see it here.


news.ycombinator.com though I wish it had a way to collapse uninteresting conversations.

Stephen Colbert: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMtFAi84ehTSYSE9XoHefig/vid...

and lately I've been binge watching the Jordan Peterson lectures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Xc2_FtpHI&list=PL22J3VaeAB...

ribbonfarm: though I usually only read the articles by Venkatesh Rao: https://www.ribbonfarm.com/author/admin/

also bingewatching lessons on 2x from http://edx.org. It used to be http://coursera.org but their servers are sluggish most of the time.

Farnam Street @ https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/:

"Farnam Street is devoted to helping you develop an understanding of how the world really works, make better decisions, and live a better life. We address such topics as mental models, decision making, learning, reading, and the art of living."

I find books about topics that I'm interested in learning more as the best source of knowledge or inspiration. Consider the book 'Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture' as an excellent source of Japanese culture and food habits. I have learnt so much from this fascinating book and it's a great source of inspiration too.


Same here. I mean, yeah, there's a lot of crap on Youtube, but man oh man, there is SO much amazing quality content as well. So many great lectures on nearly every topic under the sun, conference talks out the yazoo, documentaries, tutorials, etc. I could pretty much just spend all day on Youtube (or videolectures.net) just soaking up knowledge, if I had nothing else to do.

Not sure why it's downvoted. That was my first thought too. There are tons of educational videos, lectures and inspiring interviews. If you keep watching this kind of stuff recommendations also get quite reasonable.

Yeah but it's like saying "the Web". You should mention some channels, playlists, etc. at the very least. =)

Fair enough. There was some recent thread about it lately but I can't find it at the moment. Here's an older one:


https://sidebar.io/ for getting better at design


Create Digital Music

That might look a bit cliché, but once in a while I'll Google stuff I'm curious about and for which I have absolutely no background.

Reading academic reviews and looking up the vocabulary on the fly is a great way to stay humble.

This. Especially when I realize that there is a thing the explanation for which was given to me by someone way before either of us had access to the internet and before Google existed (I am getting old I guess). Like whether eating onions helps stave off a cold. Or how a distributed in a car works. Or whether Nissans are actually reliable or not. Or if you need higher than minimum recommended octane rating in your car. Or why most of Europe uses 240V in their outlets. Or what actually happened in Chernobyl.

You can't beat Rush Limbaugh with transcripts and audio. Premium membership is even better: https://www.rushlimbaugh.com


similar to HN but much much more humble in every way. I quite like it. Although I don't have account so I am mostly reading.

Would you like an invite?

Please, it would be great if you could hook me up with one!

Email: filip.miletic at me.com

Yes, please. Can you send me one?

Do you still need an invite?

Sorry, didn't see this earlier. Yes, still need one. Thanks!

Edit: Oops, turns out I did receive an invite. Thanks, elorm!

Always welcome :)



Great tumblr, suggested by a close friend.

- HN

- Lobste.rs

- Reddit (occasionally)

- Google News (rarely)

I find myself reading a lot more books in person though, namely educational books about topics I'm unfamiliar with or want to review. I think it's important to read about something that you don't know about but want to learn more about, e.g. for me: economics.

One that I have not seen mentioned yet: https://phys.org/.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Dzone yet.



Mostly because we created it. :)

Can't seem to open this site.

Medium.com, Hacker News, Product Hunt and varoius other sites/posts through some 10/15 newsletters. Also, Twitter.

For inspiration: http://zenpencils.com/

Hacker news


HN and reddit emacs ( and now thanks to you all a lot more)

HN, Recode, TheVerge, Pinterest, SBNation, ESPN.

I guess I like sports? :)

mostly tech news from hacker news and tech explicit ( http://techexplicit.tk )

http://www.ted.com. It's pretty hit and miss, but I've gotten a ton of inspiration and knowledge from this website since 2008.

Hacker News





And various RSS feeds and emails from MIT, IDC, personal blog, DoD and etc..

quora, medium, hacker news.

Hacker News, imgur, slickdeals.

Also, mu.


wikivoyage is awesome



I visit n-gate.com weekly. I am not very well-aware of stuff outside css/js and lot of people here talk confidently about stuff they have no clue of, unopposed. n-gate reminds me how little people on this site know stuff outside of css/js/business. Rest are clueless wannabes trying to one-up each other.

My favorite comment will always be- somebody mentioned that Microsoft Band needs a realtime OS so someone proposed javascript vm. And there were 10 other people talking about it seriously.

I'm sure I'll be downvoted which will be further proof of what I'm saying. Not that I care really. I make an account a week.

Is there a secret area on HN where people worship CSS/JS with blind faith? Because whichever post related to it I visit, there's a healthy dose of skepticism, especially in Electron/ReactNative/AnyOtherJSWrapper posts.

Further down you replied to someone else complaining about how other's work is belittled, then you write this

> somebody mentioned that Microsoft Band needs a realtime OS so someone proposed javascript vm. And there were 10 other people talking about it seriously.

I am not sure if this is bait or lack of self awareness, though I'd lean towards bait, considering you are also worried about downvotes.

I'm scared to mention electron on here, always draws out the torch and pitchforks

People on HN will rather gently point out that Electron, being convenient to you, is at the same time a horrible resource hog and exactly the opposite of what an elegantly-written, efficient and optimized application would be. Especially for some of us who actually create native apps using Electron might just be laziness - or inability to really care about the user.

> Electron might just be laziness - or inability to really care about the user.

Or it might be that it is just good enough for the target user. My 2013 Macbook has enough power to run all the Electron apps I need without slowing down...well it did once I removed Atom and learned to love Visual Studio Code.

I think that Atom's performance woes and resource hogging tends to be a stand-in for all atom apps.

Hey look, just what I was talking about. I mentioned electron and now I've been called lazy and uncaring

I was very careful to use the word "might", as there really are cases where Electron is the optimal choice. Usually though, it is not.

This is precisely the attitude that makes mature programmers not taking you seriously.

If you're young and feel the need to express dismissal to the people who take their work more seriously, that's fine -- hormones and stuff, we've all been through that, so meh, nobody is mad about it.

You still shouldn't forget it's a _job_ and not a fashion statement.

The fact that Electron is easy to work with, _for you_, means absolutely nothing about the end result of the work done through it. The topic has been beaten to death here in HN, you can check -- but then again, being that dismissive and arrogant probably means you'll never challenge your opinion. Oh well, still worth the shot in giving you the other perspective.

I never expressed support for electron. I merely mentioned it.

You've inferred that I'm young (nope), implied that I'm not mature, don't take my work seriously, that I have "hormones and stuff", that I consider electron a fashion statement (?), that I'm dismissive and arrogant, and that I'll never challenge my opinion. Phew!

For the record, I have dabbled with electron, and I'm on the fence about it. It's a quick path to MVP, but it has obvious performance issues and I'm not sure I wish to inflict these on my end users. I'm teaching myself react native and python/qt at the moment instead.

Thanks for proving my point so completely. Hey and look, a downvote too.

> always draws out the torch and pitchforks

I still stand behind my statement that this is immature and disrespectful. The rest are "if"-s, you can check my comment. There are no claims, there are "if"-s.

Granted I made a few assumptions. If you don't want that, write more than one sentence. ;)

Unless it is VSCode - because who can hate such a good IDE

It really is fantastic. I'm a long time user of full visual studio and I find it superior in many ways

> I'm sure I'll be downvoted which will be further proof of what I'm saying.

This is an arrogant and confrontational statement to make, especially given your respectable admission of lack of awareness outside of CSS/js.

Seems the site is just as opinionated as the worst of HN...

I think it's just clever satire. I especially like the "about" page.

> Hacker news is an echo chamber focusing on computer posturing and self-aggrandizement.

I'll also add- it serves as a punching bag for people who can't speak up at their work- they vent their frustrations here by belittling everyone's work.

I mean this is the nature of the web. But HN is already as good as we can get. You yourself keep coming back as well, apparently. Otherwise do you have an alternative to propose?

Least bad doesn't mean as good as it can get!

This site is a parody of what 90% of HN is. Cherry picking the worst parts maybe, but not exaggeration.

To be fair, you do also have the people that wrote the OS for the Band commenting.


one look at n-gate and it looks promising. Thanks.

you don't need the /news

Yes, I know, it is the url of the "Hacker News" logo, so I've just copied it.

^ Unintentionally insightful comment :)

Oh come on, I answered a question about the site I visit every day and got all this.

Life and everything (non-technical): http://omswami.com Treasure of practical knowledge right from the mouth of one who has attained enlightenment in the transcidental sense of the word. Biweekly post – 1st and 3rd Saturday every month. Earlier (till about an year ago) for roughly 5 years, it was every Saturday so there's lot of pearls of wisdom in there with amusing tales and jokes to instill the knowledge within.

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