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Show HN: HNNotify – Get emailed when a users reply to your HN Posts and Comments (hnnotify.xyz)
66 points by jermaustin1 on Jan 4, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 65 comments

Dan Grossman's http://hnreplies.com/ still works

Can confirm. Get mail from it frequently. It just works. Open to new options though :)

I'm also using this and I'm happy with it. It's fast, simple and just works.

This one is great, and it definitely emails faster than once per hour.

Same -- still using it. Definitely recommend.

There used to be http://hnnotify.com - but that seems to have expired. I'm guessing you already searched for other options before building your own?

For example:




Those discussions mention some legitimate concerns about a service like this that you might want to consider.

It has also gone down before:


No idea if the current outage is permanent - did you ask them?

Are you offering any long-term guarantees of existence?

Other questions:

Can I sign up to watch other people's usernames?

What happens if two people sign up each to watch username "X" - is that detected?

Can I sign up person X to watch person Y? (This won't happen if a confirmation email is send)

What happens if every second I sign up person X to watch person Y - does person X get a confirmation request every time?

I'm sure there are other questions, and I'm sure you've thought of them all and have answers - you might want to create a FAQ to cover them.

And kudos for producing something and making it available!

Edit: Now registered and gone through the process - am I supposed to get a blank screen when I "verify" my registration?

Edit 2: A forced reload gave me the "success" message, but I see no way to unsubscribe.

Edit 3: <fx: Cue laughter /> - this comment is being downvoted. Thanks HN, I needed the dose of reality.

Yea sorry about that - I opened sourced everything a long time ago for anyone to take and relaunch it.


Just went from coding all day long to managing an organization and having a family... my side projects were completely starved for attention .

> am I supposed to get a blank screen when I "verify" my registration?

No. That is the white screen of death meaning there was an error pulling your user account from HN. I went in and clicked it for you, and it worked. HN API issues are pretty rare.

I was aware tangentially of HNNotify.com, and tried to buy the domain, but they wanted $1,000. I never used the service, because until about a year ago, I didn't really use HN all that often.

> Are you offering any long-term guarantees of existence?

My guarantee of HNNotify.xyz existing for no into infinity is that it costs my company < $20/mo to run, so it will take more time to shut it down than it costs to run. We get $450/mo of free azure hosting for the next two years, then after that the all in cost is $80/mo.

> Can I sign up to watch other people's usernames?

This is planned in the short-term. The user (if registered on HNNotify) will get notified they are being followed.

> What happens if two people sign up each to watch username "X" - is that detected?

You have to verify ownership of the account, so it isn't prevented. It is useful if you change emails, etc.

> you might want to create a FAQ to cover them.

That's a good idea. I'll try and type some of these things up.


BTW: Your account discovered several issues in my naive logic of crawling the entire history of a user.

Interesting! Feel free to email me with the oddities you discovered, I'd be very pleased to know, and happy to keep them in confidence. But if you'd rather not, no problem.

Email in my profile, in case you're interested.


Hey guys, I built this out of a desire to get emailed when people respond to me on HN. Too often I would comment, go out to dinner and forget to check back. Now, I will know within an hour or so if someone commented!

I use hnreplies.com, and it works pretty well. But it goes through periods of not working at all.

The problem with these services (there also used to be one called hnnotify.com, which didn't last long) is that they're developed by HN users, who don't seem to care enough to keep the services working 100%.

YC seems to prefer a development model where the community fills in the gaps of missing functionality, but this also means you can't expect much from the resulting services. I would much rather have this built into HN.

>YC seems to prefer a development model where the community fills in the gaps of missing functionality, but this also means you can't expect much from the resulting services. I would much rather have this built into HN.

I would prefer the best of both worlds - let users write plugins that consume a more robust version of the API and add that functionality themselves. They could even be posted publicly and integrated by other users with some arbitrary amount of karma, and plugins would necessarily be restricted in their capabilities and maybe even rate limited.

Heck, add an endpoint for a WASM compiler and an option to use multiple languages.

It will never happen, though.

HN used to natively support sending push notifications through Notifo, but that company folded and the feature went away.

I guess one of these HN-comment-e-mailing websites needs to apply to YC to actually have a chance of getting integrated into the site.

I'd prefer it to be builtin too. Just a number beside my username in the top right, that when clicked, takes me to a list of comments and submissions that have been commented on.

> "I'd prefer it to be builtin too"

Same, I can see all sorts of nefarious uses for this service (not necessarily by the guy who built it, more so by trolls who can use it to target HN users). If I really need something like this, I'm competent enough to build and host it privately for my own use. Given I'm not even a programmer by trade, I'm sure that last statement is even more true for the majority of users here.

I'd love this built in. It would work better than anything I could create!

But until a feature like that exists, I'll stick with mine.

Hey, just FYI - on both Firefox/Chrome with uBlock the main content is hidden, because of ##.newsletter-subscribe (part of Fanboy’s Annoyance List, not enabled by default, but still)

Can you confirm you don't plan to use the email addresses for any other purpose? It should be indicated on the page.

I will add that to the home page. Does this sound good?

I have no intention on using the emails for anything but notifications from HNNotify. Included in that are: new features, account notifications, reply notifications, follower notifications (future).

Your email will never be used to solicit/sell anything 3rd party.


Everytime an improvement to HN is posted here, I find it funny that HN is frequently cited on HN as an example of a perfect clean minimalist website when it lacks plenty of features.

Yes, a blank page is also very clean and minimalist. And useless.

P.S. I know that plenty of text-only websites load themselves with tons of useless media and needless JS. And yes that should be fixed. But the internet is more than just blogs.

I second this. Forget fancy bells and whistles, this website is missing some very core and useful functionalities that aren't so hard to implement.

I often wonder whether these basic features are missing intentionally for not so benign reasons


Compare the speed and fury of flamewars on reddit when people are tossing orangereds back and forth.

Yes, it's annoying to me to have to dig back through my profile (whichever it may be at the time) - but I find I will only do so when a topic is truly worth following up on - not simply to spite another stranger on the internet, which seemingly still goes on here to some extent regardless of the "feature".

I'm racking my brains trying to think of what those "not so benign" reasons might be. Can you share some?

No. This is a simple message board, a news aggregator. If you add features to make it more than that, it turns into a social network and all the drivel that comes with that.

HN can choose to be whatever it wants, from a single page pure text website to a full-fledged OS in browser webapp.

But comparisons need to be between peers. Praising HN's minimalism and clean look while comparing it with webapps is facile.

The community seems content with fixing the issues through third party projects so far.

Is there a way to unsubscribe? I can't see an unsubscribe link in the emails, and there doesn't seem to be one on the website.

Good question, currently, no. I will see what options mailgun gives me.

There is apparently a checkbox to autmatically insert an unsub link. I will see what this looks like.


I love it! But why would you need to verify that your email is associated to your username? What if you'd want to stay anonymous and not let whoever created the app know your private contact information?

The information is out there for the public anyway, I don't see an issue with following someone else's username if that is the reason. And if the reason is to prevent other people from signing up random people to get spammed with notifications, or because the service will only handle one email per username, why not use email verification instead of username verification?

Because there are additional features coming soon: following users - and notifying a person they are being followed, subscribing to topics/websites/etc.

Following a user and them being notified requires a hacker news username to be verified, so we aren't sending out 40 emails that "tw1010 is being followed by jermaustin1" when the only person who cares would be the real tw1010.

I thought about building a hckrnews.com clone with this built in, and maybe a mobile app. It'd be nice to get sms/email/push notifications as an option, but not it all be a separate application altogether.

Let me know if you build the mobile app!

Is this really all that desirable? Hackernews takes up way too much of my time as it is, and I get people replying to my posts all the time. Seems like this would quickly lead to notification hell.

Notifications are nice for us less popular users. :)

And they are useful when one has made a personal offer to another user. The acceptance of that offer could easily be missed, especially if it occurs days later.

I'm in the same boat - I like to offer my view, then walk away, and let people react how they will.

Even so, I'm not going to argue against anyone else being more vested in the ongoing conversations, and this would be useful for them.

Regarding .XYZ TLD:

Please don't use XYZ.


It's 99.9% full of crap (SEO spam, malware, etc.)

There are drug dealers living in New York City, does that mean that everyone else should move out?

It's just a tld, there's a million of those. If somebody likes it, why shouldn't they use it? The .cx domain was ruined by one rogue website and the attitude you encourage.

This is good advice. XYZ is a significant spam signal & likely to result in non-delivery of email, which seems especially important for an email notification service.

May I know what is your approach. Are you periodically checking https://news.ycombinator.com/newcomments or what you do to find user and its reply. Just asking out of curiosity.

Using the API, and every hour crawling a users posts that are < 10 days old for new comments.

Hmm, I like that you're not sure whether someone has replied to you.

Then don't use it?

I've been using https://www.hnwatcher.com/ for awhile and really like the keyword alerts the most.

Is there a way to specify active hours or time zone? Seems like there are no notifications during my day, and a lot of them in the dead of the night. I am in India (UTC+0530).

Notifications come in every hour that you have a reply. Nothing exists to schedule them for daytime hours only.

I've been using this for about a week now. It's exactly what I was looking for: a simple notification that reminds me to go read my comments.

I sometimes think it's a shame Hacker News isn't an independent startup separate from YC (or rather has to at some point turn a profit so motives for it to improve are there).

I know the MOOC is coming (?) but there are lots of things you could do with the social graph or even providing an Oauth API where you can have applications that access the interactions you have on here.

Congrats on the launch Jeremy! This is a feature I've been wanting for ages. I subscribed.

- Michael from fman

Thanks buddy. I was actually writing you an email this morning, but then decided I had tested it enough :).

Haha! Fair enough. Would have been cool. Fingers crossed!

The verify is getting a runtime error

Looks like your profile's about section is null. I expected an empty string. In either case, you need to add the verification code to your profile and save it before you can verify your HN Notify account.

For what it's worth I had the code in there when I clicked verify and received the error. Glad to help with some error handling though :)

It has happened to a couple of people so far, seems like the API might have a little bit of a lag when updating a profile.

I haven't seen it first hand but what you and a couple others are see sounds like it might be the case. I'll keep an eye out.


Thank you. :)

i wonder if theres a way to implement this in bash as a cron job. no reference to a github...

Definitely possible. I am a windows developer by trade though, so I used a windows service that is always running looking for new content then queuing it up for the email notification.

email? why not web notifications?

I would prefer web notifications as well, though I understand email is probably easier to implement. Still, were the option there, I would have signed up to use this already.

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