> Sudden dramatic 50% increase from 2016 — 2017
I've felt that. I write a bunch of tech articles on HTTPS, nginx, HAProxy, CSP, EV verification, Brotli, TLS errors, and other HN-worthy topics (https://certsimple.com/blog/). In 2015-2016 I'd continually get on the front page simply by writing about something useful regarding these topics in a relatively straightforward way (maybe with some Sketch diagrams and other useful graphics). These days, while I still get a bunch of traffic from Reddit and Google, HN frontpage doesn't really seem to happen for my content.
Sure, to some extent (devops still means you need to design networks, it's just that individual server instances matter less) but that didn't change suddenly between 2016 to 2017.
How do you know? The availability of AWS didn't change much between 2016 and 2017, but maybe 2017 was when people started using it en masse.
In business school, they play the beer game ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_distribution_game ) to emphasize that a change at one end of the supply chain has weird, lengthy effects on the whole thing. You don't just switch seamlessly from the old state of affairs to the new; there's a big, massively awkward transition period.
That is, if I see something with 800 points and read/enjoy the article, I'm less likely to upvote than if it has only 200 points. I have similar feelings about photos on FB, which I'm more likely to "like" if it has only a few reactions than if it has over 100 already.
I don't know if others have similar feelings about when to upvote things, but if my thought process is not uncommon then it could dampen the impact of a growing user base. It's sort of like the bystander effect, but for internet platforms.
Like the phenomenon you describe, this suggests that a lot of people are trying to use their vote to move the total vote towards what they think it should be, rather than purely expressing an up-or-down opinion independent of the existing vote.
I definitely do this on reddit, and probably on HN too. I don't know if such a thing exists, but I would use a widget that gave me an 'upvote iff karma < 1' button.
Since there is no 'karma rent' or anything, of course the over all karma over time will increase
All the default subreddits suck.
I feel like me or the web has changed significantly over the past years. I'm just not sure if I'm different and have seen it all or if everything became more professional and commercial and at the same time less interesting to explore.