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Ask HN: What Hacker News comments have you bookmarked?
740 points by pardavis on April 22, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 184 comments
Frequently while browsing this site I see a comment that is profoundly insightful about culture, mindset, career, relationships, coffee grinders, etc.

I realized today that I’ve always considered them in the moment and let them go. Perhaps I should have been bookmarking them and revisiting with a different perspective.

A quote about salary, that I bookmarked as I could see myself making the same mistake:

"Salaries never stay secrets forever. Hiding them only delays the inevitable. Last year we were having a discussion at lunch. Coworker was building a new house, and when it came to the numbers it was let loose that it was going to cost about $700K. This didn't seem like much, except to a young guy that joined the previous year and had done nothing but kick ass and take names..." (edited for brevity).

"...The conversation ended up in numbers. Coworker building the house pulled about $140K base (median for a programmer was probably $125K), and his bonus nearly matched the new guy's salary, which was an insulting $60K -- and got cut out of the bonus and raise in January for not being there a full year, only 11 months.

Turns out he was a doormat in negotiating, though his salary history was cringeworthy. It pained everyone to hear it, considering how nice of a guy he was. In all honestly, $60K was a big step up for him. Worst of all, this wasn't a cheap market (Boston). The guy probably shortchanged himself well over a half-million dollars in the past decade. This was someone who voluntarily put in long hours and went out of his way to teach others, and did everything he could to help other departments like operations and other teams. On top, he was beyond frugal. Supposedly he saved something around 40% of his take home pay, despite living alone in Boston. He grew up in a trailer park.

He spent the next day in non-stop meetings with HR, his manager and the CTO. That Friday he simply handed in his badge without a word, walked out and never came back.

Until 3 months later. As a consultant. At $175/hour."


Salary-porn seems to be a category that generally gets a lot of attention on HN. Personally, I feel a bit ambivalent about it. Obviously it's useful to be able to compare & benchmark, because one should go into any decision-making process being well armed with information. But on the other hand: The information exchanged is never enough to truly contextualize the numbers appropriately, and it's a potential source of huge amounts of cognitive dissonance. You have to be pretty good at being a stoic to try to break the information down to something objective and not let it get to you.

For example: The $175/hour number you just mentioned, and the fact that you seemed to imply that you're taking it for granted that it represents a successful outcome would be clearly a source of cognitive dissonance for most people. -- If he manages to do 2000 hours at $175 every year, that would be $350k which would be impressive. But then it may be nothing: if it is a highly specialized thing where you don't manage to get a fulltime workload out of a year, where you might spend the majority of your time with non-billable hours for project acquision, where you maybe have to cover costs of travel or time & money for certifications, where you have to carry high risk, etc. etc. ...it is usually impossible to properly resolve such questions to the point where it's useful for benchmarking and for extracting conclusions that are actionable to yourself. But the cognitive dissonance remains.

It's not 100% all the info you need, but as a rule of thumb $x/h as a consultant is similar to earning $xK/year (anecdotally it seemed to check out: I once asked HR to do the math with me to evaluate what kind of rates we can afford to pay freelancers compared to how much similar-role employees were making - I think the example used was that a freelancer paid €60/h would cost equivalent to the salary cost of an employee earning €65k/year).

The guy may not be making the equivalent to a $175k/year salary but he was almost certainly making a lot more than he previously was at $60k.

I won't downvote, I want your opinion to be visible so other people can read this. I am one of those 'suckers' that left a job/career (call it what you will) in the Big4 to go solo.

Apart from boosting my annual income x4, I am no longer involved in backstabing, politics, shitstorms, and other permanent employment 'pleasantries'. The C-levels who sign my invoices keep me out and away from all that. I have gained their trust and they keep me around to get-the-job-done. I do get some surprises every now and then, but nothing I can't dance around those. The gig economy (up to a level) works for me.

>where you don't manage to get a fulltime workload out of a year

I only NEED to work 3 months in a year, and spend the other 9 sitting on my behind doing my hobbies. Of course I work as much as possible (8h/day - 5d/week) and I do take some time off (by European 'standard'). I found it that once I start monitoring the contracting market, getting weekly alerts, see the trends, etc. it is possible to build on your existing skillset to make sure you remain relevant. E.g. anyone in Europe with a good GRC knowledge had plenty of time to get in shape for GDPR.

I wasn't arguing against being a consultant, merely pointing out that an hourly rate of a consultant is something where a bit of context is needed in order to be able to interpret the number, and that a consulting rate can easily seem high compared to an implied hourly rate received by a fulltime employee in a low-risk environment if the context is unknown or misunderstood. -- But the same is also true for comparing fulltime salaries, especially with onsite jobs, where cost of living, cost of real estate, tax regime, social security implications etc all have a huge role to play and make an apples-to-apples comparison difficult.

> I found it that once I start monitoring the contracting market, getting weekly alerts, see the trends, etc. it is possible to build on your existing skillset to make sure you remain relevant

What data sources and techniques do you use to monitor trends?

I have registered to services like Reed, or JobServe. I have some wide-enough searches that send automated reports, and some very narrow (e.g. "GDPR", "SOx"). It looks like spam, but it gives me a good idea of how many contracts are available, for which areas/domains, and at what rates. This way I can see when the market increases or drops for the narrow searches. The wider terms searches help me identify new and upcoming trends.

It looks tedious and time consuming, but after the first month, just scrolling through 3-4 emails gives me a pretty good idea of where the market is going.

I would love to talk to you about what kind of work you're doing now.


"I help companies pass their audits".

You tell me what audit you have to pass, and I will work with you to pass it successfully. It could be just a 3rd party audit you got coming up, or some regulatory/contractual requirement(s) you need to fulfull (PCI-DSS, VISA PIN, GDPR, HIPAA, SOx, ISOs, etc.)

You name it. We sit down, make a plan, put dates on that plan, put names and roles on that plan, provide the proper support/Sponsor and (with a little/a lot of pain) you pass the audit. But you PASS your audit. There is no miracle recipe, no 'feeding the multitude'. Good old smart and hard work.

Calling it "salary-porn" gives away the rest of your comment. I could have written it myself based upon the many conversations I've had with people here, and elsewhere, about salary.

For some reason many people are hostile to the idea that, at a minimum, you can make more money doing exactly the same thing for exactly the same company. Perhaps this shields them from the horror of the money they are most certainly leaving on the table, or the uncertainty of pursuing that money. The nice thing about being the lowest paid serf is the lord knows he's getting you for a song, or at least that's how the thinking goes.

I'll just leave you with this: I make a minimum of $3k per day. I am not special. I have an IQ of 118 which is probably low for HN. The difference is I've never accepted that what they're paying me is the most the company (or market) can bear. My first programming job out of the Army (with no education) was 50k/yr. My current rate is the result of 15 years of continually challenging the offered rate and searching for higher rates.

Today, I work part time and have tons of time for myself and my family. I'm so expensive that my clients honor my work and value my time. I know you'd prefer this lifestyle to the daily grind of 40+hrs, a middling salary, and little respect so why not test my model and see if it doesn't bear fruit for you.

You can't say you make 3k a day without explaining your career path a bit so us lowly serfs can emulate.

Nor can you say it without quantifying the structure of your earnings... Where are you based, city/country? What kind of clients do you entertain? Also what industry/niche does your consulting empire cover?

I assume you're an incorporated consultant and the rate of $3K per day is gross revenue and not net income(?)

Certainly this is achievable, but people need to understand exact comparables so they're not comparing apples to oranges.

Ok, replying to you and next up line.

I do consulting, the kind I do is irrelevant because there are others with high bill rates too (I know of some iOS devs that make $2,500/day). I have friends who are Java devs making $250/hr. They're not dummies but they aren't exactly Linus Torvalds or Chris Lattner either.

Since you asked, I advise companies on how to implement certain development practices, things like DevOps, TDD, etc.. Before you totally write this off, hold your horses. I'm not saying this is THE path for you. It's one of many. I just happen to care a lot about how we work together to make software and I always found myself drifting into those discussions on the team.

I'm based in Houston, TX. I charge $3k - $5k per day. I usually pay my own travel expenses. I haven't been charging that for long and the first time I submitted a proposal at that rate I almost threw up I was so nervous. I work usually two weeks per month. I usually travel to my clients. I also sell support contracts where I offer them unlimited Slack and 1-2 calls per week. I offer them coaching, feedback, guidance. Sometimes it's pairing on building out a Jenkins pipeline, sometimes it's just explaining why "change fail percentage" is a good metric to track backed by industry studies.

I have a friend who couldn't join us for BBQ this weekend because he's traveling to SF just to visit with a former client who paid him something like $100k for a handful of Java classes he taught. I'd have to look at the invoices to know the exact amount and I have a call coming up. He went through my company. The nice thing is once you set up a company properly it becomes a vehicle for all sorts of financial endeavors. People think creating a company is scary and complicated and can really fuck you up. That's wrong. It's trivial to create a functioning company and the upkeep just to keep it compliant is absolutely minimal if it's incorporated in a state like Texas.

If you've read this far, here's the golden nugget. I wish someone had told me what I'm about to tell you.

1. Follow the things that really interest you, not in your head, the things that make your heart pound. Maybe that's picking up certain types of stories in the sprint, or helping a coworker with a certain kind of bug. While your energy will come and go, that thing that makes your heart pound will always be there. It's connected to your calling, which you might not understand until you're in your 40's (like me).

2. Always ask for more money. Ask nicely, and after you deliver something of value. The company ALWAYS can afford to give you more. If giving you $20k more will bankrupt the company then your company is dying and you're going to be out of a job anyway. People who aren't business owners (myself included at one time) do not comprehend the decision flow business owners take. Ask for the money until they don't have any more. It is more ethical than letting them waste it on another kegerator for the office. Programmers in particular have a very skewed sense of the value they provide. Even a mediocre programmer is worth 10x his salary. You have no idea how valuable you are to a smart business person. Instagram had 30 employees when it was sold for $1B. Think about that.

3. Be polite and talk about the things that interest you with others. Share what excites you. It will be genuine and people will like that. It will link you up with the kind of people you should be linked up with.

4. Only invest time in the people with the most potential. Don't waste your time having coffee with people who aren't passionate, smart, hard working, or creative. This means avoid shit-magnets/pin-cushions. Within 10 years these high potential people will pay off for you in multiples. For me they've become great friends and have fed me most of my business. Back then they were just "I like this person".

5. Show your work. Imposter syndrom is lies you tell yourself in the absence of valuable feedback. Make things, no matter how flimsy or unfinished, and show them to people. A Russian guy once told me "never show unfinished work to an idiot". So show your work, just don't show it to idiots. Every single time I've had the courage to show smart people things I was tinkering with it has led to an opportunity.

6. Be courageous. Learn to do things you know to be wise, even when they're scary.

7. Be patient. It's the journey not the destination.

I know this all sounds like horse shit but how many times have you heard these exact things from "successful" people before? Did you ever stop to ask yourself why? Maybe they're good principles. Maybe they actually work. If I told you the "path" to where I'm at and you tried to follow it you'd most certainly fail because the world is so complex that the correct answer (in discrete steps) is only knowable after the fact. The only thing you can do is be guided by principles that bear good fruit. Follow your heart, ask for more money, be polite, invest in potential, show your work, be courageous, be patient.

From the bottom of my heart I wish you the best. If you ever would like to chat I'll happily hop on a zoom and share as much as I can with you. I want you to find as much joy and financial reward in your endeavors as I have found in mine. God bless.

> "Imposter syndrome is lies you tell yourself in the absence of valuable feedback."

This sentence alone is a worthwhile comment, though the rest is great too. Thank you.

Thanks, this is all valuable and my own experience bears this out. People looking to take the next step up should pay attention to this wisdom. You say you usually charge $3K-$5K per day, what do you use to determine your rate? That's quite a large spread, so I assume you have some metrics that you use to determine this.

so I assume you have some metrics that you use to determine this

Nope. Sales is human. If it were a codec it would be non-deterministic and lossy.

I quote whatever the market will bear. I try to quote $5k and often get negotiated down to $3k by procurement/vendor mgmt. dept. There's been plenty written about how this works by folks smarter and more experienced at sales than myself.

Awesome, thanks so much for that clarification.

A vary favourite-worthy comment in a thread about favourite-worthy comments. So meta, it pleases my geeky mind. Kudos!

Appreciate the reply.

I'd love to talk to you more about this.

Thanks for taking the time to write this.

It’s called salary-porn because like actual porn, its attention-grabbing, often tantalizingly exaggerated and phony. Everyone on HN knows someone who knows someone who makes $500K at Facebook, and therefore that’s a totally normal salary that anyone can achieve. Last week it was $450K. I guess next week, $3K a day is going to be the standard rate for developers here.

To a developer who makes, say, $120K (which at least in the Bay Area is around median based on Salary.com and Glassdoor), that kind of claim is an emotionally-charged fantasy: provocative, maybe a little humiliating, but ultimately empty and unattainable. Again, fits the “porn” theme pretty well.

I’m not saying you’re a phony. Maybe you do make an enormous amount of money. If so, congrats, you are an outlier among outliers. I don’t see how talking about it adds any more value than talking about how you’re any other kind of fortunate outlier, like a hotel heir or lottery winner.

Your comment really saddens me. There’s so much more you could have. There’s no reason why what I make has to be an outlier. I’m so so so not special. Many people have come on HN to say exactly what I’ve said and have achieved outsized results. Jesus, is patio11 really that incredible of a guy? I mean, he’s really nice and pretty smart but dude he made his start with a bingo card creator.

Our mindset is our greatest limitation.

You are right in lots of stuff but you are probably underselling your skill combo. You are probably good (even if not great/amazing) at more than one thing - not just managing projects, but also sales, and maybe marketing too. You are probably right to say that there are other people better than you at any one of those things, but for the full combo, the story changes. It's easy to say "learn sales", and indeed it does not necessarily require very high IQ... but it may require that you change who you are. And that's extremely hard, if possible at all.

> Our mindset is our greatest limitation.

That, and the nature of distributions. Salaries are not exactly normal, but there’s still a long tail on the right, with only enough room for a few. Some people find it fun to read/dream about being over on that tail, just like some people aspirationally watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

If outsized results were achievable by merely applying hard work, adopting certain principles or following articulable steps, more of us would be able to show outsized results. Even for athletes, more training and better mindset means better performance but not necessarily outsized performance. There are only so many Olympians and pro ball players to go around and the farther right you go on the tail, the more of a factor random chance is.

Just an anecdote: I sometime drop to friends and acquaintances that salary is one of the last taboo in our modern western society but it's a really strong one. Either it ends there with a joke comment or it sparks a conversation about an individual's worth in society and among friends.

I'm wondering if that's a "previous generation" thing that's slowly going away, or if I'm just living in a bubble. I know (or have known and forgotten) the salary of most people in my extended peer group (25-30 year olds mostly). If the topic we are talking about is jobs, or a new job someone got, the person usually either flat out says it, or someone in the group will ask with little hesitation.

How much do you and your extended peer group earn ? My initial reaction is that if you earning well above average and your peers as well then it's way easier than sharing that info with people earning way less. Or if you earn above the minimum wage but not by much you won't share with that SV hotshot.

Anything from 2k€ - 20k€/month, so pretty varied. This is from very varied backgrounds in different industries (software engineering over caregiver to business consulting), different education levels, and also got to know them in very different ways (high school; job; friend of a friend). All in Germany, which I think is about as secretive about salaries as the US traditionally, but also spread out across all parts of the country.

This is why I thought it might be a generational thing, as that's the only common denominator I was able to make out.

I live in Germany as well & haven't noticed people being that eager to share their salaries (although it's also not that hard to find out).

Even here in Germany where salary talks are serious taboos, the younger generation is definitely more open about it.

I had people repeatedly asking me for my salary after accepting a new job. I think things have seriously changed.

It just goes to show that people DO associate their worth with their salary. I talk about my salary with my friends because we realize that it's all kind of a crapshoot and/or a matter of choosing whether or not to sell your soul.

That's a point I usually bring in the conversation: for all our talk about equality, sharing resources, etc. we still tend to associate with people who earn in the same bracket.

Keeping salaries secret is exactly the same as giving candy to a child and saying "Don't tell anyone about this".

In both cases, the person giving the pay/candy has something to gain if it stays secret and the person on receiving end is being manipulated.

I have a similar mindset, I hate money games.. it voids my soul. Money at best buys you peace of mind and I don't understand how societies ended up creating noise to justify this.

I feel you, and you might not be alone. Apologies for unsolicited advice:

It is better to heed to reality sooner. One way to do that is not to change the way you think, but the way you live [0][1]. Modify your work and life such that you can make the maximum out of what the world has to offer [2].

Another interesting insight is the fact that the conclusion arrived to from a problem is not always the right one. For instance, when Henry Ford asked customers what they wanted, they said 'faster horse' when in reality they wanted to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. If you think you hate money games, perhaps it's worth being inquisitive about how you arrived at that conclusion-- what's the underlying cause: is it because you find the economic system is rigged, or because you have had bad luck with money and investments, or you have seen money gained by folks around you through means you don't agree with, or...

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19589434

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16693885

[2] http://paulgraham.com/wealth.html

> conclusion arrived to from a problem is not always the right one

Very true. I'm also very reflective about my own thinking process. Why I don't like money is that it's too relativistic. I can get money by doing something useless that someone believes has value. For instance neighbors pay me to do the most simplest tasks on their computers. To me this has no value, I now accept the money because I'm a bit angry as the world requires me to make money. In my few IT jobs I found the work was moot and drowned into accidental complexity. But that doesn't stop the world from playing the money game. Raises, politics, inflated product costs, improper jobs .. It happens in other places too. Basically a lot of sales is super dirty and driven by competition economics only.

Maybe it's not money but the average western person mindset that I have a problem with.

I find it very asocial and inhuman. I'd rather carry an old person's bag.

I can get money by doing something useless that someone believes has value

I call this the "I'm smarter than them" fallacy. You think it's useless, they believe it has value. Why do you think they can't see it "your" way? Is it that you know something they don't (in which case, your knowledge clearly has value), or is it that they see something you don't, which then explains why they are willing to pay you for that "useless" work?

Yes but the only known tried alternative, communism didn't work out very well.

The Nordic model, while not totally free of problems, seems to be doing quite well, as does other models of, say, healthcare under systems which are less profit motivated.

That's really an oversimplification. There are orthogonal spectrums that any culture exists on --it's a lot more nuanced than a communism capitalism dichotomy.

Yeah, forget it. Above comment was more of a fart.

Henry Ford's "Faster Horse" story is a great one, but it isn't true.

I guess it's better than saying "Sometimes people don't know what they want".


> Money at best buys you peace of mind

money is the #1 stress factor in relationships and also just in general. having enough money goes a long way to eliminating whole classes of stress, mood, and other mental health problems. you don't have to be rich to be happy, but generally you do need to have enough money to live a satisfying life that you're not constantly struggling against.

People who can improve their income in a way that doesn't cause them stress, mood, mental and physical health problems are part of a well-insulated minority.

Yah, I'm just gonna go to my boss and say "more monies plz" or I'm going to go scour the market and try to trade up. I suppose if I just look at the number and ignore everything else the latter might be doable...but I do want a personal fit and some kind of stability. I suppose if I'm willing to pack my bags and start over every year or so I can keep this going and mitigate the effect of working places I hate for the sake of a big number.

Oh yah, and I have no high profile github stuff, nor am I a whiteboard wizard. I guess I should just "git gud" though, which I'm sure is a negligible stress investment with a guaranteed pay off?

/s Truly, I'm not allergic to the subject, but the cavalier attitude kills me sometimes. So much "What's the problem, peasants?"

FWIW, you don't need to be nearly as "gud" as you think you do; when you're a hot commodity in a market like we have for what we do. Though I commend your desire to stay somewhere stable.

Eventually, you get to a point where you're comfortable, and $10k begins to equate to more time off, less after-hours calls, etc. (and be worth more)

I think the vast majority of people's mood, stress and physical health would improve if they had more money.

I think there's more at play here. I often find myself struggling because of this even though I'm not out of money. It's more a chaotic ever changing social context that creates uncertainty that money seems to ease virtually.

Pardon the joke, but just make more money so you can buy temporary wives.

When I said peace of mind, I meant having to avoid with stressful relationship. I wasn't thinking about intimate ones of course but it's not entirely different.

Not to say this isn't true... it sounds like there is more to the story with this guy's salary history. If $125k is the ballpark median for a programmer in Boston, then how did the guy not notice he was getting <50% salary for the same role?

Some people aren't good at negotiating; that's understandable. But not knowing he was settling for such a pay-cut is almost appalling. That company must have enjoyed him being there knowing they pulled a fast one on him. Maybe there is some shady backstory here or something else influencing the situation..?

I've worked in multiple companies (including current one) where there was a very wide distribution of salaries. This is not at all uncommon and a lot of people are clueless (partially because talking about wages is taboo).

I'm not surprised at all by stories like the OP's.

Being a nice guy to today's society often meant being that person in your story.

I am also one of them. And after all these years is still no good at salary negotiation. And unless you are exceptionally good and could afford to do consultation, ( which isn't really a thing in my country ) you still have to suck it up.

I know I am late. But I am starting to think may be claiming the ladder is a different set of skills.

Sometimes I feel that it can be a lucrative trap to become invested in a single person, and then accumulate expectations that far outweigh the responsible obligations of any friendship. As I have gotten older, a pattern that is working much better for me is the campfire model - I just try to keep a metaphorical campfire going, for people traveling through this life to stop and warm themselves upon while I tend it. I cannot know which direction people are traveling from, or to, or how long their journey has been or will be. But all people need to warm their calloused hands and feet, and I can keep this fire with a bed of rosy coals.

Sometimes someone will stop at my fire and warm themselves without my ever having paid attention, but to them it may have meant all the difference in the world. By keeping this obligation in mind, to simply expect people to need a place to sit a spell, I can at least believe I am helping.

The campfire is a nice way for me to remember we're all suffering, that not a one of us is unique to loneliness. Because sometimes that person who sits down at your fire is the person you have been waiting for, and only by making a seat for them were you able to ever meet.


Thank you, I really enjoyed the original discussion.

I’ve often been thinking of time distribution and personal CRMs lately. It’s very easy to fall in the trap of spending all your time with a significant other - and find out years after that all your relationships are ghosts of their former selves. I see that in my parents: at 70 they might have 10 people between them that they care about and see more than twice a year. How sad is that in a marriage that hasn’t gone well for two decades?

But the campfire analogy is so bleak, so distant from other people. I don’t have a neat visual for it but what I would like is to spend quality time with a core group of 10-20 people per week, good times with another 20 every month, and see another 100-200 every year at least (mostly family). Is anyone managing a schedule like that?

I agree, that analogy seems a bit excessive. A little afraid of commitment and building deep connections and deep joys.

I mean, there's the phenomenon of building over-expectations on someone else and becoming excessive in trying to monopolize their attention (although I believe it's mostly only a problem when not reciprocal).

Let's not go the other extreme though. When no one can really connect and trust someone else, you're just sharing a moment of warmth in the vast darkness...

I have some friends that understand me very deeply, and that I also understand very deeply. Spending time with them and talking I feel like discovering the same things they did.

And then I try to cultivate friendships with people quite different then me (but that I admire of course). This is to not be caught in a bubble thinking my field is all there is in the universe ...

( Funnily enough any field can suffer from that -- Your field Technology? It is the structure that supports everything; Your field is Language? It is the medium that underlies all thoughts; Your field is Mathematics? ... )

Overall it shouldn't be about number of friends, but about being able to share deep (in the sense that you both really capture what's being shared), good things (feelings, emotions, lessons, etc) as much as possible. If you feel you're having that you're in the right path.

If you were to hang out with 10-20 core people every week, that would be very unusual. Most people have 3-5 close personal relationships. https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-many-friends-do-you-need/

Unless you are including large group gatherings like parties and reunions, meeting 100-200 other people you know is by no means an easy task. I'd say, for me, almost impossible at the moment.

I think they actually mean maintaining a relationship with 100-200 people (can be existing contacts) not necessarily create new relationships.

This is the only comment I have bookmarked in my years of lurking: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18964418

> The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior (in whose honor I had a day off of work today) never once called for 'tolerance', the boycotts and sit-ins were not a demand for tolerance - they were a demand for integration. To tolerate is to "otherise" - you are _allowed_ to continue being as your are, but on the outside. To integrate, you do not require permission, but you do not continue as you are - both "sides" are transformed by the process.

I heard Zizek say basically that exact same thing, it’s a common point he makes in certain talks. https://www.google.com/amp/s/bigthink.com/good-thinking-is-g...

Thanks so much for the link! I think this is a powerful idea and look forward to studying it more.

You can favourite comments on HN and the lists are public so you can browse others favourites. This is a little known feature but I like it. For an example here are my favourite comments:


I didn't put a lot of thought in it, I just favourite stuff I might want to reconsider later. One example I still like is:

>You can hide from your your boss, your wife, or even your mother, but you can’t hide from Facebook.

Browsing others pages can be quite insightful for what they find notable. Not everyone uses this feature, so not everyone has favourites and it takes a little digging to find good ones. For example here are Thomas Ptaceks:


Just to expand on favourites:

Favouriting a comment is a public bookmark, without boost

Liking / upvoting a comment is a private bookmark with boost.

Favouriting a comment auto upvotes the comment so it does give it a boost.

Hey, you are right! The arrow disappear when I favourite. I stand corrected.

I cannot find the comment favorite button for the life of me. Is it unlocked at x karma, or am I missing something?

You click on the comment's time stamp to go to the comment detail view. There will be among others a favorite button.


If you click the timestamp does it show up next to the flag link?

This is amazing. I am always finding nuggets of wisdom and didn't know of a good way to store them. I made an account just for this.

This impersonation of The Economist writing style is hilarious:


>Mocks Populi

There is a an apocryphal story in which your anonymous correspondent was on a small business jet somewhere between Davos and Dubai, when he asked a former Thatcher minister what shade of pink the Financial Times newspaper was. "Parlour," the minister replied. It is in the spirit of this self-referential anecdote that an auspicious news peg has provided an opportunity to sound off on a pet saw and perhaps let on that I went to Cambridge.

Broadly, this newspaper is neither here nor there on a given issue, other than to say that it is different from what you expect - and for reasons that may surprise you. The prediction will be driven by the available data, include a smirk at the newcomer, and give a sop to the status quo. All things equal, it will predict outcomes that are some function of the sum of elements by the number of elements, and provide a view that is "radically centerist," if perhaps a bit smug. A reversion to the mean, indeed.

-- Every Economist Article Ever

Haha this is incredible. I love the Economist and have had a subscription for years, but this is spot on.

this toothless centrist smarminess is what led me to cancel.

"The separation of design and construction into phases is a hangover from civil engineering. It has the baked in assumption that the design phase is relatively cheap, short and somewhat unpredictable the construction phase is expensive, long and predictable. The root problem is the assumption that specifications can be validated for correctness, like a blueprint for a bridge can. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a persistent myth in software development." https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12080968

"OOP is just a mental model. Deep down everything is made of bits. The church of OOP has failed but if something looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck it probably is useful to make a duck class. We're now down to fighting for nuances. You can do most things with OOP or without OOP but each path has some upsides and downsides and most of the time it's good to use some things it provides where it makes sense and not get too religious about it. The great architect has the foresight on how the code will be used in five years and design it accordingly." https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18250466

On 'simple to recreate' Evernote making $800,000 per Month:

> This is the biggest mistake most of the people make. If it worked that way, every weekend app released here would be making tons of money...But this is NOT app v/s app game. This is business v/s app. And you can't take down a business with an app. You need to create a business. Sure you can build a better 'app' than Evernote or make a better burger than McD's but you can't make a better business, the day you do - you are in game.

On building one-person startups (both from jasonkester):

> Your $10k MRR niche won't be "app that lets people hail taxis, and network of contract drivers." It'll be "reception table plan designer for wedding coordinators". Google is not now, nor will they ever be, having a meeting where they decide to allocate a few hundred engineers and marketers to crush that space.

There are tens of thousands of niches like this that will pay for teams of 1-3 people to live on the beach after a few years of work.


> Personally, I prefer to listen to the person who has tried a thing and declared it possible, rather than the person who has never tried that thing and declared it impossible.

On the risk of choosing Firebase (and similar PAAS providers):

> Way to risky not to use for startups, IMO. What would you prefer, spending half your time doing backend development to get a system that might be 80% as reliable as Firebase on the off chance that your startup will survive long enough for your custom engineered solution to bare fruit, or spending all your time actually building your product and launching quickly so you can determine whether or not your startup is even viable?

This is a very wise comment from jlcfly in what a senior developer should aspire to do, especially if they feel they are approaching or have reached their personal asymptotic limits for technical skill.


"Teach them to be better than you. That may seem counterproductive. I have a type A personality, and I have decent coding skills. I've been in your situation a number of times. I also know there's these mythical expert developers out there that I can't seem to find (or afford). So, what to do? A few years ago I realized that if I continue down this path, I'll end up with some serious health issues due to the stresses that come along with having a reputation for being a really good developer. So, I decided that instead of searching for developers better than me, I would teach developers I work with how to BE better. It's taken a lot of patience. And it's taken me quite a bit to LET GO of my way of doing things. I had to take my ego out of the picture. (VERY hard to do.) Nowadays, I realize that developers don't have to BE better than me. I simply have to ALLOW them to do what they do without being so obsessive about it. Turns out, even junior developers really CAN do good work. They just need a little guidance that only comes with experience, and then they need me to get out of their way."

"I try to optimize my code around reducing state, coupling, complexity and code, in that order.": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11042400

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19294191 : A meta-circular evaluator in Prolog. (User triska's comment history is full of gems.)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17020655 : A question I had asked about interfacing Excel, which provoked some useful responses. I now use this as my authoritative list of ways to extend Excel's functionality.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18314265 : Fascinating comment about, well, all kinds of stuff, but mainly PostScript. (DonHopkins. Another user whose comment history is a seam of gold.)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16014573 : Great post about the history of terminals and terminal emulators. (JdeBP)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15027372 : Introduction to the market for produce by the produce buyer for a small grocery. (LightRailTycoon)

"The Single Greatest Predictor of Future Stock Market Returns": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14948078

And here's the live (well, lagging a few months, but this is a very slow signal anyhow) version: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14950203

If I remember correctly, that was suggested half-jokingly by the author to demonstrate that any metric where the numerator is proportional to the stock market will tend to predict future returns (because of mean-reversion).

Edit - here you go: http://www.philosophicaleconomics.com/2013/12/valuation-and-...

The key passage:

Charts like these (including my own) that attempt to correlate valuation metrics with future returns start off at a significant unfair advantage relative to other types of correlation efforts. Note that a valuation metric is just the current price divided by some variable (earnings, book value, sales, etc.). Neglecting dividends, the long-term future return is just the difference between the current price and some price far out in the future. Notice that “current price” shows up in both of these terms. Is it such a surprise, then, that valuation metrics and future returns seem to correlate well?


(1) Valuation Metric = Current Price / Variable

(2) Future Return = Future Price – Current Price

If future prices are inclined to rise at some rate over the long-term, then any time current price falls (and the same fall isn’t exactly mimicked way out in the future), (1) will go down, and (2) will go up. The valuation metric will fall, and the return–the distance between the future price and the current price–will rise. Hence the (inverse) correlation.

Now, if you choose a denominator for the valuation metric that is highly noisy, its noise may get in the way. But if you choose a denominator that is smooth over time, the pattern will hold. Notably, the plot of the valuation metric versus future return will end up producing a series of coinciding squiggles and jumps that create the visual illusion of non-trivial correlative strength, when there is none.

Yup, I should have included the link you posted for a complete picture.

The value of the stock allocation metric is in that it seems to be the strongest mean that the stock reverts to, in the sense that it has strongest predictive power. It is not that surprising because it uses to the raw supply/demand dynamics.

But the author’s point is it’s only predictive in hindsight, due to reversion to the mean of the past data (since investment allocation is basically just measuring price over the short run), not to some objective mean that also applies to the future.

Well that's the hypothesis - that since reversion to the mean stock allocation has always happened it will continue to happen. There's things that can invalidate the assumption, like the widespread common wisdom of HODLing index ETFs (till retirement, no matter what). If the hypothesis is false we could see stock market allocation go all the way up to 80%, or even beyond.

Am I wrong?

The author was not presenting it as a serious hypothesis. They were showing how compelling it looks at first glance, and how deceptive that naive analysis is, because of the unfair advantage the chart gets (in the sense that it inherently looks better than its predictive value). They did this to knock down many other valuation-based measures, not to advocate for this one.

Reversion to what mean, is the author’s point. The mean for the twenty years between 1900-1920 is different from the mean for 1900-1940, is different from the mean for 1900-1960, etc. The mean is continually shifting. All data sets revert to their own mean, on average, by definition. The mere fact that a data set does so is tautological and thus provides no evidence — no confirmation of any scientific hypothesis.

Edit: see my other comment for the quote of what I consider the key passage in the article.

This is super interesting. I read another post on that blog about pension funds' total allocations to equities growing considerably over the last few decades. I wonder if the baby boomers retiring will trigger a noticeable aggregate divestment from stocks to cash

This is the only stock forecasting article I've read out of hundreds with actual value.

"Javascript Delenda Est", by zeveb, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11447851 :

> Can we please try to stop talking about this specific language ecosystem as an awful deplorable hell hole or whatever?

Back in the second century BC, Cato the Elder ended his speeches with the phrase 'Carthago delenda est,' which is to say, 'Carthage must be destroyed.' It didn't matter what the ostensible topic of the speech was: above all, Carthage must be destroyed.

My opinion towards JavaScript is much like Cato's towards Carthage: it must be rooted out, eliminated and destroyed entirely. I don't know if I'd go quite so far as to say that the fundamental challenge of mass computing is the final destruction of JavaScript — but I want to say it, even though it's false.

JavaScript is a pox, a disaster, a shame. It is the most embarrassingly bad thing to become popular in computing since Windows 3.1. Its one virtue (that it's on every client device) is outshone by its plethora of flaws in much the same way that a matchstick is outshone by the sun, the stars and the primordial energy of the Big Bang added together.

JavaScript is the XML, the Yugo, the Therac-25 of programming languages. The sheer amount of human effort which has been expended working around its fundamental flaws instead of advancing the development of mankind is astounding. The fact that people would take this paragon of wasted opportunity and use it on the server side, where there are so many better alternatives (to a first approximation, every other programming language ever used), is utterly appalling.

JavaScript delenda est.

How incredibly sad that this is the top comment at the time of writing.

That reflects the opinions of those who read and vote.

Given the lyrical emphasis deployed by the author, I feel this ought to be taken humorously.

I mean, using javascript for server code is batshit insane.

I had a quick go at Node.js and was surprised to find some interesting things. In particular I found the event model and the stream API rather nice. I have no idea how it's like to maintain a real-world code base though. Libraries seem to have very narrow scopes which means managing a lot of dependencies and that might be painful in the long run.


I feel nearly the same about the English language. It's my first language, and after learning French and Spanish, it's so clear that there's a better way.

out of curiosity, which features of English language do you find so annoying? My first guess would be inconsistence in pronunciation, but otherwise it seems quite logical and easy to learn

In my experience, it's the lack of logical rules that many other languages follow that bothers people.

Here are a few examples.

Pronunciation - you make a fair point. In particular.

Elision - other languages drop more unstressed sounds, allowing phrases to roll off the tongue more easily and smoothly. From Latin on, most romance languages have a healthy amount of elision. In Spanish, this chaining of words is referred to as enlace or encadenamiento.

SVO - English relies on Subject-Verb-Object order to express what is being done by whom and to what. Compared to languages that use cases to do this, it can feel a bit tedious and disjointed. In general, case-based languages like Latin, do a good job of showing off what is happening given just a few words.

Word order - beyond SVO, english relies on strange, rarely-codified rules of word order, making it hard for even native speakers to sound conversationally proficient. For example, the adjective rule is maddening: https://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/adjecti...

Unpredictable declensions and conjugations - "I go, I did go, I went, I have gone" is way crazier than languages that are more rules-based regarding how words are constructed.

Borrows - I love how many words and phrases English has taken from other languages, but it loses internal cohesiveness due to its variety of external influences.

Why did Cato hate Carthage so much?

"The expression was a call to arms by the party advocating destruction of Rome's ancient rival Carthage, which was thought to be rebuilding its capacity for further warfare."


Hannibal came from Carthage and Hannibal was Rome's public enemy number 1. Really though, it's always been about the Mediterranean. Whoever owed that owned the "global" economy at the time. Carthage threatened that.

Regarding dealing with difficult problems:

"Like almost all problems in life you have only 4 options: #1 Change you (accept what you are unable to change)

#2 Change the other (convince them to follow your vision)

#3 Fly (divorce, quit)

#4 Stay and suffer (include drinking, doing drugs, whining)

It is amazing how many people chose number 4."


I'd file "doing drugs" under #1, at least if you choose the right ones.

Experiencing enough of #1 or #4 eventually makes them indistinguishable.

    Very frequently, the right answer for a MVP is something
    like an e-mail newsletter, or a Salesforce extension, 
    or a CSV file, or an IDE plug-in, or throwing a pizza 
    party for your target market and performing the service 
    for them yourself.

    I’ve seen startups charge $10K+/month to dump a CSV file 
    on a client’s FTP server. Go where the user can most 
    conveniently make use of your product; for a lot of 
    businesses, that is neither app nor website.

"Napster is the future of the internet. It will come back. But the world has to evolve on a social level before this can happen.

We saw the same with the printing press: the Powers That Be first banned it, then tried to control it, and eventually had to relent. It will happen with data sharing too, eventually. It might take a century, but it will happen."


I bookmarked a comment, making a point on the life cycle of platforms: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19612180

"This is basically a repeat of SEO. At first, you have the early adopters. Things grow organically and it doesn't feel like a zero-sum game because there aren't many players.

Next comes the growth phase, where more people get involved, and start competing for attention/clicks/votes/whatever points system.

Next comes the exploiters, who discover weaknesses in the system and take advantage of them. They tend to make a lot of money because there's not much competition in this niche.

Next comes the crossover, where the exploit knowledge becomes public, and everyone now must do it because everyone else is.

Next comes the shutout, where the company running things starts actively punishing bad actors, but by this time, being a bad actor is essential to survival, so people do it anyway. It becomes a game of cat-and-mouse, new exploits, new mitigations.

Eventually, the company manages to fix their algorithms enough that the exploits don't offer decent marginal returns anymore, and it returns to what the company originally intended: 1% of people are successful, 99% of people make next to nothing, and the company makes shitloads.

And then the new big thing comes out. The old system goes into decline and the new system starts to take over. Rinse and repeat. "

I map comments I like into coherent arguments using this [0] (An example here [1] ). I would love to share maps with others even if it is not ready for public use ( you only live once ! )

[0] http://clean-ico.appspot.com/

[1] http://clean-ico.appspot.com/static/site/Symbol/index_argume...

On asking for a raise[0]:

> What if you went to your manager, or whoever you feel is the right person, asked if you could speak one on one, and said... "I really love working at this company. The work is interesting, I love the people, the culture, <one more legitimate pro goes here>. But I also know I could be making X if I went elsewhere. I love the work I'm doing, and I want to keep doing it here, but I also don't want to be leaving money on the table. What can we do?"

This phrasing, pretty much verbatim, has worked really well for me in the past.

On multithreading in Redis [1]:

> The problem with clustering still becomes lower queries per GB as instances can’t share data. Redis itself runs in RAM so storage is at a premium. One of my main reasons for doing multithreading, and FLASH in the first place was to make Redis work well for much larger value sizes.

I really think we have different use cases in mind.

A book recommendation [2]:

> "Basic Economics" by Thomas Sowell. Not an easy read, but it deeply changed the way I think about incentive structures and the law of unintended consequences. It's a tough pill to swallow for people (like myself) who cling to utopian ideas, but the older I get the more I realize we must live in the world as it exists, with human nature as it really is. Dreaming of a better world is counter-productive if one does not engage with reality. We can build a better world, but only by being honest about the current state of things.

Links to parent comments: [0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19539485 [1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19370712 [2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19087418

This one from December: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18777949

>> But he was tenacious; he would never give up on anything.

> To be fair, in my mind this is the one most common trait I find in successful entrepreneurs and leaders. I've seen leaders who I didn't think were particularly bright, or extroverted, or empathic, but man, did they not get stressed out by obstacles that came in their way. They either sidestepped them or overcame them, but they did not dwell on them and let those obstacles lead to self doubt.

Also really appreciated this articulation https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19350161

> Leadership is basically just people-engineering and business-engineering. Engineers use tools to build products, and so do leaders.

> The immediate assumption is that people are tools/resources to build the product. That's talking like an engineer.

> Don't use your team to work on a project/product. Use the project to work on your team. They're not there to build the product. They're there to gain some personal fulfillment. Use the development of the product to grow them.

I have quite a few. The most recent favorite is this one, which actually features verbatim quotes - and highlites the level of editorialisation in the (us) news:


" js2 37 days ago | parent | un-favorite | on: Beto O'Rourke's membership in America's oldest hac...

Fox News: "Young Beto O'Rourke wrote 'murder fantasy' about running over children, was part of famed hacking group: report"

CNET: "Beto O'Rourke has serious hacker credentials. The presidential candidate was a member of hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow"

WaPo: "'Psychedelic Warlord': Beto O'Rourke's past life as a teenage hacker" and "Beto O’Rourke’s hacking universe, explained."

Sources: (... See original comment...)"

I would love a website that contrasted editorializing of the day's news and rated them. Is this something machine learning could accomplish? Sentiment analysis, perhaps?

This is a bit off, maybe, but close to what you're mentioning: https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news

There are many bias rating services, and allsides seems to be decent as any. I use a Firefox extension that they power, BiasFinder.

This comment from nightcracker about GDPR privacy consent:

You enter a coffee shop. Before you can do anything, the owner takes a photo of you, and grabs your hand to take your finger print. He quickly writes down the date, time and what clothes you are wearing.

He gives you a smile as he starts his speech. "Before we continue, we at Coffee City want you to know we deeply value your privacy. We need your permission to store your information, improve your coffee experience, personalize your coffee suggestions and share it with our partners. Do you consent?"

You don't fucking value my privacy. I get some serious doublespeak vibes. If you valued my privacy you'd leave me the fuck alone and stop saving information about me.

This is a very interesting take. The only problem in using this analogy for social media companies is that in a coffee shop you pay for the coffee. In case of social media you don’t pay for anything. So there is no incentive to maintain your privacy:

That's beside the point. They are saying one thing, then act in another way. It is a good analogy.

It's a terrible analogy.

The fact you pay isn’t besides the point… it’s literally the entire point.

If a Starbucks did that and said “btw, the coffee is free”, there’d be a line out the door and half way around the block.

In fact, Starbucks does that and they don’t even give you free coffee. You use their wifi and next time you walk in they’ve got your fingerprint, if you have their app they have even more info, and people accept all this gladly for what? Free wifi and occasional rewards in the app?

You’re underestimating how much people value anonymity over privacy, and free stuff over both.

The coffee may be free, but every 30 seconds, there is a new salesman talking to you and making you look at their highly customized sales pitch. You can try and ignore them, but then your peers at the coffee shop try and shame you by saying "But the coffee's free! Think of the poor baristas!"

People literally would not care.

The Starbucks app will send you daily notifications and targeted ones, people do not care.

Has it ever occurred to people who are so anti-advertising that the reason we live in an ad driven world is because that’s what consumers want over just paying fair value for things?

Otherwise why would a paid alternative to gmail not exist? In fact, if people actually wanted that, why would Google not sell it to them? Google's accounts do not care if 10 cents comes from ads or from your pocketbook.

And you think companies you're paying don't have the exact name privacy policies?

Pretty sure my coffee shop has a security camera, and most customers pay by card.

Pretty sure the coffee shop doesn't livestream the camera feed to 150 "partners".

True, although there's the choice by the customer to use cash or their card, for the same price and product in return.

These comments from "How to come up with monetizable side projects ideas" post.


1. Find a popular SaaS product. Like Intercom, Algolia, Segment. Make sure it doesn't have a free plan. This guarantees there's a market for the tool. Check out GetLatka for ideas. https://getlatka.com

2. Build your own take on the product. Find the minimum set of features that make it valuable. 10% of the work for 80% of the value.

3. Sell it at a 50-90% discount. There will be price sensitive customers that want the popular product, but don't want to or can't afford it.

4. Target bottom of funnel marketing channels: Targeted quora questions. Paid/organic search queries. Set up retargeting ads on Facebook. Product hunt launch it. That should get you a steady stream of customers.

I don't think this is a great way to build a million dollar business, but is a very easy way to make a few hundred. Shoot me an email if I can be helpful.


Don't exactly copy another product. It's damn important to reinvent defensible products that either, and hopefully do all of:

a) solve a slightly different problem

b) target different users

c) solve the problem in a 10x better, compelling way


TIME. Time is the MOST precious commodity. Help users SAVE TIME. Save time finding something of value to the USER. You can't "presume" how much to charge. You have to "TEST" pricing then keep jacking it up until your customers don't pay. How can you pay for something what does not offer value. Stay small. Stay NICHE. Grab a slice from a BIG market. Forget millions. slap-yo-self with fury with delusions of becoming a millionaire, and make a goal of making enough to avoid being trapped in a 9-5 lifer situation. It take a LOT of luck + skill + market segment expertise. Like you have to KNOW the market you are going to be competing in. Assisted living , senior care , retirement calculator is VERY hot now. You'll be at it after your day gig 6pm-2am testing / building / iterating. Good LUCKY. launch a free beta version learn what customers value and how much they will pay ( ask them) THEN when you have enough people crack addict addicted to your service / app start charging. Be merciless. But offer excellent customer service. Always be honest.


While I agree with some of the tactics here (make a twist on similar ideas, contact businesses, buy a business, brush up an existing product you built)

I'm going to suggest an alternative method that has worked for me.

Start with the money.

If you want monetization to be guaranteed you need to prioritize that first.

Take this method and rinse/repeat for you and your skills.

1) How much do you really want to make from this a month, what would make you happy?

Let's say you decide $1k a month would make it worth it after time, expenses and payment processing fees.

2) You then decide how many customers you really want to have to find and how much support email you want to answer.

Usually developers pick prices like $6 and wonder why no-one buys. This low price screams a lack of confidence in the product. That you aren't taking it seriously. That you may not be around in 8 weeks.

Starting without monetization in mind or equally, pricing low is the death of a product because for someone who dislikes marketing you just set yourself a huge marketing mountain to climb.

At $6 each, finding and selling to 150+ customers - when you don't even have one yet is a huge trek to your $1k happy place.

Let's say you feel more confident about finding and serving 10 customers really well. That seems achievable, right?

So with just 10 customers we're looking at a $100 a month product, right?

Whoa, you're thinking you could never build something that's worth that much.

Maybe you're worried it's enterprise level costs now and that's not the type of product you want to build.

Don't worry, a $100 product can be really simple.

Often developers think that a big cost means solving a big problem and that a big problem needs a big solution. Not true at all.

A big problem can be solved with a small elegant solution.

3) Now we know how much we want to make and how many customers we need and how much we are going to sell it for.

We now need to find the problem we are going to solve.

So how big of a problem needs a $100 per month solution?

Not very big at all really.

Let's say a business owners time is super-conservatively worth $50-$100 an hour.

So to add value, we are looking at saving someone between 2-4 hours a month on a task they normally have to do manually. That's not too bad!

Or maybe you want to help them reduce their business costs by $200-$400. Also, very possible. Now we have the value proposition.

We know what kind of problem we are looking for, so value will be clear for the customer.

4) Now we decide _who_ this is going to be for.

Don't pick people the same as you. They have the same skills and can solve the same kinds of problems that you can.

Pick a group of people :-

- That are easily identifiable by what they call themselves on social media (blogger, podcaster, videographer, designer, public speaker etc)

- Make sure they are a group you like interacting with, that you have some experience of working with already in some way (please pick a group you like and care about)

- Make sure they are the decision maker in their own business (don't pick employees of big corps)

- What tech skills have you worked with that overlaps with this customer group?

Let's say you've worked on a few video platforms in the past so you know that space well, so you choose to help YouTubers.

5) What is the issue that we are solving?

Ok, so now we're helping YouTubers to either save 2-4+ hours a month or reduce costs by $200+ - for your $100 MRR product.

This is where we breakdown what it takes to run their business.

What stops them being more profitable?

What tasks do they do everyday?

What can be automated?

What do they hate doing in their business?

If you know this space even a little, you will have answers here.

Maybe video storage is a huge expense.

Perhaps running their community takes up too much time so they can't scale.

Is just publishing a video end to end super time consuming? Look at why.

If you don't know what matters to them, ask. Make a hypothesis and see if it's true.

In just a couple of DM's you might find that they spend a whole day a week on something repetitive. Or are spending money on something that you can optimize. Write a few possibilities down.

6) Make an offer

In just a day or two you can go from no idea, to identifying a significant pain point for a group of people that's easy to reach.

Now you consider a couple of small technical solutions for the problems you've found.

You go back to a couple of your ideal customers and make them a proposition.

Something like - "You said you spent X hours on this particular problem. If I built something to solve that, this week, would that be worth $100 to you?"

If it's a huge pain point they will bite your hand off. If you get weak responses - no worry, you've not built any code yet. You can use the conversation to get to a deal.

They might say it's worth less so you find out what features would be needed to make it worth the $100.

Maybe they suggest a different problem that is more urgent for them.

After a few conversations you should have at least a couple of paying customers and a clear solution.

8) Building

Now you know exactly what you need to build and have customers waiting. There is no excuse but to launch. This will help you focus on the truly essential code.

As you build, reach out to a few more potential customers. (we made sure they were easy to find earlier) Ask them if they have the same problem. Show them what you have.

Go through a few cycles of building and feedback. Make sure people are paying you what you set out in the beginning - or close to it.

Ask your starting customers for referrals. You'll reach your 10 customers with zero marketing spend.

You then have all of the elements needed to scale further if you wish!

Remember that code comes last in this method for a reason. Only build when you have paying customers.


> sanj on July 18, 2007 [flagged] [-]

> Did you win the Putnam?

> If not, please don't be "bolder" than this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravi_Vakil

> cperciva on July 18, 2007 [-]

> "Did you win the Putnam?"

> Yes, I did.


Reading those comments make me wish that I had known about this site back in 2007, back when graham responded to comments about his essays or when now-famous founders browsed as well [1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35095 (Same thread btw.)

Crazy to look back at that exchange between him and Drew Houston knowing what we know today about the success of Dropbox (which hadn't even launched at the time of that comment!).

It's easy to look back at the "good old days" with the benefit of hindsight, but I'm sure that even today many of the famous founders of tomorrow can be found commenting here on HN. We just don't know who they are yet.

There are a lot of redundancy in themes, but I didn't notice a decreasing in quality of the discussion. The good now days are perfect to me.

It really is amazing, I've been here nearly 12 years now and the quality of discussion hasn't devolved. If anything, it was a bit more cynical/negative ten years ago than it is now.

I feel like there are more brief and superfluous comments than there are used to be, but just as many or more lengthy and substantial comments.

Your comment gave me an interesting idea. What would happen if we imposed a minimum char-limit for say, hacker news comments? On one hand I'd expect more descriptive responses, fewer comments that are a short "Your wrong but I won't tell you why", etc. Comments just spamming letters would be fairly easy to detect.

On the other hand what would this minimum char/word length be? Even your comment is fairly short, but it's descriptive and fully communicates your point...

Then you end up with comments like you find on leasehackr.com, which has a twenty character minimum: “Agreed. 202020202020”

I believe there is a minimum character length under which comments are printed in a smaller font. I’m sure the mods have some insight into this.

Huh. I've only been here a couple of years, and I feel the quality of discussion is already starting to worsen. (However, it's still better than most other things—see https://danluu.com/hn-comments/)

How did I guess this was going to show up...

What a great rabbit hole down which you sent me! Thanks!

Drew Houston even replied to one of his comments in that thread suggesting possible collaboration, and this was while Dropbox was going through the Summer '07 YC program, before they had even launched.

Crazy to look back and see how things panned out for these two random internet commenters.

That's the first one I thought of too. :)

(Oh my, I recall reading that roughly in real time when Colin wrote it, can't believe that was 2007 already!)

I loved this comment about the state of the shareware / try-before-you-buy industry:


“Those ideas are also based in my anecdotal experience, and perhaps it comes from a willingness to question some "fundamental axioms from scratch", but at the same time maybe that's a) not always a bad thing to do from time to time, and b) if your fundamental axioms are good there is no reason that you won't come back to them.” - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17296020

“Augmenting human intelligence, while leaving the hearts as they are, is a loss, not a gain.” - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17196155

I maintain my favorites list with a great deal of selectivity. You can check it out here: https://news.ycombinator.com/favorites?id=Invictus0

@jasonm23's comment:

"Emacs is basically a text centric computing platform, built with a flavor of Lisp."


I've bookmarked so much it doesn't mean anything anymore. I tried a few years ago to index it all, but with the rate limiting that went nowhere. I should probably revisit pulling it all out of the common crawl now that I think about it. Or perhaps someone knows of some mirrors?

I made a basic API (free/open source) to access user favorites, since that endpoint isn’t available on the normal api. I’ll add in a comments option.


Did you try the HackerNews API? [0].

I've never used it, but it states in the README that there is no rate limit currently (~8 months ago).

0. https://github.com/HackerNews/API

Yes, It's nice. I've used it to create a Bitbar plugin for mac https://github.com/amrrs/hn_headlines_bitbar

I used it last week and found it adequate for my case of running some simple statistical regressions on my comment history. It's probably good enough for most personal use.

not tech related at all but this response about Hitchens nearly made me cry.


Thanks for this. I still miss him regularly. With every passing political debacle.

I just checked, I had these two bookmarked: http://piks.nl/upload/upload/Screenshot%202019-04-22%20at%20...

1. "Just like a steel door, when somebody else has the keys, you are not secure - you are imprisoned."


2. "Do not use the Internet. Do not use phones. Do not use bank accounts. Do not travel by plane. Do not enter public spaces. Do not show your face.

Otherwise you accept our Terms of Service.

Thank you for trusting us."


Bookmarking this. Since it gave me pointers to so many good comments

I kind of thought this post would languish in the new queue. My heart and mind are warmed by the conscientious people here.

So meta!

Ah! I don't bookmark but I usually copy a few of them to my "Notes" app. I quote them, share them, and sometimes tweet them based on context. Some of them are pretty good, I don't even have to refer to my notes and can blurb out the substance (if not verbatim).

Once there was a longish story about how to fix a furniture company (in context to Evernote). I have shared that with quite a lot of people, including quite a few CXOs.

That is fantastic. Really hits home. I’ve been at my current company for years. I’ve seen it grow from a small, scrappy, barely getting by but absolutely enjoyable company, to a large, top-heavy, meeting-centric, proper business. I’ve been in a position in which my manager knows nothing about my project or day-to-day, only that customers are happy.


Do you have the link or the text of the comment? Sounds interesting.

Reproduced Verbatim;

How do you fix a broken company?

Let’s say you were just hired as the President of a furniture company. The owner says he knows it's good furniture but even despite huge investments they can't seem to sell any furniture. Your job is to turn things around.

You start on the factory floor. The furniture is made by a combination of machines and human workers. Some people are employed to set up and configure the machines to make furniture parts. Around 150 people work on actually making furniture, either assembling it, doing quality tests, or setting up and operating the automated machinery. Things aren't perfect, but you aren't going to make any changes on your first day so you make some notes and move on.

The furniture hasn't changed much over the years, it is still basically the same as it was when the furniture store opened. The furniture gets 'improved' from time to time, you see a step stool with an alarm clock, a small safe, and a webcam built into it, but when you ask the foreman he tells you nobody has ever turned on the alarm clock or used the safe or connected the webcam on any of the step stools. People seem to mainly use the stools so they can reach things that are up high.

There is a problem where sometimes people slip when the stools are wet, so they worked out how to add a nonslip pad, but the product managers have decided that the next feature will be to add scents to the stools, so you can buy a stool that smells like cinnamon or one that smells like apples. They have a big advertising campaign already paid for and they already sent out the press release announcing "ScentedStools", so the machines need to be set up to start stamping out stools that smell like "Fresh Linen" by the end of the week. There are daily status meetings to update them on the progress. If the "Fresh Linen" stools aren't being produced by Thursday they are going to start having two status meetings per day.

You hear it's someone named Jim's last day, so you set up an exit interview. Jim tells you that the bosses and people upstairs don't really know what is going on in the factory. Most days he just sits and reads the news, his "nontechnical" manager doesn't know anything about furniture or how Jim does his job so there's no way for the manager to know what is going on other than to ask Jim. Supervision primarily consists of making sure Jim is sitting at his desk and looking at his monitor.

Since it is not a Startup thing to set Jim's specific hours for him to be at work, his manager has started scheduling 9AM meetings every day to force people to turn up. Every week or so Jim has to update some Product Managers upstairs about what is going on, and he just says they are making steady progress and comes up with some specific problem to explain why they aren't done, pretty much anything with jargon will work since nobody upstairs "could tell white oak from red oak". It takes about 5 minutes to give his status update but he's expected to stay for the entire 1 hour meeting, so he brings his laptop so he can read that FurnitureNews website. He says he is quitting to take a much lower paying job because he is bored and doesn't respect his manager.

Next you go upstairs to the office space and find 300 people having meetings with each other about annual plans and prioritization, writing mission statements and meeting to discuss mission statements. The 300 people upstairs are constantly in motion and complaining about how over worked they are. They each have 5, 6 or even 7 (sometimes more!) 1-hour meetings every day, but you only see them meet with each other, nobody has any meetings with anyone from outside the company, nobody has meetings with possible customers, and only very rarely do you see anyone from the factory floor in these meetings, and then it is almost always just to give a status update. None of these folks really understand furniture very well, they can't really tell good furniture from bad furniture, they literally don't know the difference between solid oak and cardboard, they don't know how long it takes or how much money it costs to build a chair. After a few days of meetings you haven't met anyone who cares about furniture at all, they all seem to want to work at the furniture factory because it pays well, or they like the prestige of being 'in furniture'. Mostly they talk about how overworked they are and make the case for hiring a few more people. If they could hire another person for their team they wouldn't be so far behind. You aren't sure what they are getting behind in, are they talking about meetings they can't attend because it conflicts with another meeting that is more important somehow? Do they need more time to work on power point slides for the next days meetings? Some of the office folks have degrees in furniture science, but none of them have ever successfully built or designed any furniture outside of little school projects.

Then you go out behind the factory and see a massive mountain of furniture stacked up to the sky. The factory workers have been building furniture every day for years. People all agree that it is good furniture, maybe the best there is. Nobody ever buys any of it. It's not sold in any stores. No hotels buy it. No businesses buy it. Lots of people are lined up as far as you can see to pick furniture out of the pile for free.

How do you fix this company?


Commentary on limitations of SQL - SQL is not composable.

This comment made me think of composability in other other contexts as well, such as requirements specification.

I used to enjoy reading Larry McVoy's comments here,


Unfortunately, he hasn't written any comment here for more than a year.

Not bookmarked but saved a copy. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=121413

> APOLOGIES for making this post so annoyingly long, but I really hope you find value in the words below. -----------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm going to first share a personal experience from my early trading days to illustrate where I'm coming from. I used to wake up at 4:30 am everyday in the Chicago suburbs to beat rush hour traffic and make it into downtown Chicago at 6:30 am. In order to wake up so early, I fell into a habit of sleeping at 9:00 pm and like a robot waking up at 4:30 am. This simple routine was indirectly helpful when things seemed darkest.

For the first six months, I lost money and was ridiculed constantly by other traders who were more successful than me (which was about 20 other guys CONSTANTLY using me as a punching/whipping bag). The only thing that kept me going was the fact that some of the very same traders that would be making wise cracks at me for losing money were some of the most successful people I knew at the time. For better or worse, if I needed a trader to model myself after, it was the same people that were telling me how bad a trader I was - and although I was not open to really hear what they were saying, they were right about my skills in every way (but their feedback was always packaged in some sort of insult).

After racking up some rather hefty losses, I was determined to quit at one point during month four, but because I had a habit of waking up at 4:30 am I simply "forgot" that the night before I told myself I would quit and spare myself further humiliation...by then I was warned that I was now on the red list of traders ready to be cut. Also, my personal savings were starting to approach zero (the base "draw" for house traders was enough to pay for food; you usually make your money on a percentage of your profits, and I was deep in the red at the time).

To say the least, there were many excellent reasons to be "reasonable", forget about my dreams, and quit.

After 4 consecutive "failures to quit", I realized that I didn't quit because somewhere deep down I was hanging on to a dream, however remote at that point: that I could somehow be as successful as the other traders that I knew. At the same time I realized that I had hit rock bottom in that I couldn't even succeed in failing! Very tough times indeed...

An interesting point to note here is that although my losses were starting to get very large, the people who were funding me as a trader kept me because I had one redeeming quality: EFFORT, and this helped build tenacity. Other traders who barely traded but had a fraction of my losses were cut much faster because they didn't put forth much effort. They were not willing to take losses and be bold/brave and fight it out; I was willing to take risks, and this saved me from getting cut faster than others.

Slowly I began to reinterpret the constant humiliation I was suffering: perhaps the other traders were right about their "jokes" and there might be something in what they are saying that will help me get out of the red. I also realized that since I had failed at quitting (which was now the ULTIMATE failure), there was no further failure for me and that if I took baby steps they were surely to succeed (this translated into taking smaller trades/profits).

Only after improving upon my abilities as a trader and channeling my energies appropriately did I succeed and earn everybody's respect as a trader (and you have no idea how this made me feel!). I quickly made enough in commissions to be trading my own account, and be successful as an independent trader onward. When I look back at those final months of 1999 (yeah that's right, I was losing huge cash at the end of 1999 when the entire market was going crazy UP!), there was more good than bad even when I was getting my ass handed to me. It's just that I was intentionally creating my own feedback (I'm right everybody else is wrong) instead of seeing the results I was getting (losses/insults) as feedback and information that would help me be successful.

I kind of snicker every time I see somebody ask for feedback on their startup on YC.News only to end up justifying themselves by telling everybody why they did what they did when they get negative feedback, which is the feedback of greatest value. If somebody tells you how crappy your idea is, thank them that they even spent a few brain cycles considering your idea.

The lessons I learned from this that are perhaps relevant to your questions:

- Determine if you believe in yourself to succeed as an individual (I know this sounds odd, but for a moment just examine your thought patterns and your actions and see what message you are sending to yourself; do you listen to the voice that says you can't or are you paying attention to the feedback from your efforts and the results you are getting?)

- Search deep down inside and see if the project you are working on is something you believe in or not. If you can't sell yourself, then you shouldn't bother trying any further...

- ANY attention you get for your efforts is good attention. If you get LOTS of negative feedback, then be grateful - you've jumped the first hurdle of getting people to give a damn about what you are doing! :)

- There is responsibility and accountability that goes with both success and failure. You need to be ready for both because they can be equally painful in equal ways. The amount of accountability that comes with success can be more unbearable than the accountability that accompanies failure. I personally know of some very talented people who enjoyed phenomenal initial success only to find just as fast that they were in over their heads.

- The more you resist the possibility of failure then you are less likely to recognize possibilities that will help you succeed. If you are afraid to fail, then most certainly you are afraid to succeed. This sounds counterintuitive but it's based upon the fact that fear makes your mind less supple and less responsive to the changes that will push you out of the game - or conversely it will lessen the impulse to jump on the opportunities you need to succeed.

- The results you get has everything to do with your users/market and less to do with you as an individual; it's sometimes hard to separate these two. See the other side of the equation and what side you are on before trying to solve it. Don't ever think you are above the feedback of your users...EVER!

- Don't have expectations (this is just setting yourself up for failure). Because you are starting out you may not know what is best to help you succeed - ESPECIALLY if you're lacking motivation. Keep in mind that whatever results you get from your efforts will lead to more possibilities (in the form of additional information).

- Have some behavioral "context" within which to exercise discipline and structure. Seek to grow your efforts within this context. My context was my sleep schedule. It was a routine that was so ingrained that my drive had a laser focus. This might not work for some, but it worked for me.

Finally, I will add that in my opinion failing hard and fast is MUCH better than failing slowly. The faster you know for certain something isn't going to work out, the sooner you can cut your losses and move on to your next idea. When you eventually succeed, you will look back at all the times you were quick to cut your losses and get to where you are...


Please do NOT contact me asking for advice in trading/investing. This is a VERY personal thing, and it has everything to do with who you are, NOT with how much information you have, or which tools you use, or who you know.

I can't remember if it was a comment or a post that linked to a really interesting article? blog post? rant? on how difficult actually modelling neurons is. It went into a lot about the genetics and epigenetics of the neuron, but I can't seem to recall the author or find the article. I wish I'd bookmarked it. :/

Just look at people's favorited comments (for example, mine is at https://news.ycombinator.com/favorites?id=saagarjha&comments..., though I don't actually use the feature very much).

I don't usually bookmark comments. I'll favorite an entry that has a comment I want to save for later so that I can come back and see the comments on that comment. For instance, if someone posts a relevant link. I'll favorite the entry so that I can see what other links people offer.

"Does depend on number of donkeys vs number of coyotes though. They're ornery, not magic."


About the magic of good error messages (parent comment is good too): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17859210

Shameless plug: I save insightful paragraphs to https://booxia.com using a browser extension, and then I get reminded about them via email.

I have all my bookmarked comments over here: https://pinboard.in/u:shrayasr/t:HN/t:QA

None actually. I have a high threshold for upvoting, so my upvote history tends to be it's own record of things I found insightful or useful (with some humorous things thrown in occasionally) :)

This one on practicalities of open borders: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17437888

Is there an easy way to bookmark HN comments?

click the timestamp on a comment. You then can either click the "favorite" link, which stores it at https://news.ycombinator.com/favorites?id=krm01&comments=t (but note that list is public), or have a direct link to the comment to bookmark elsewhere.


I always enjoy the satirical content about last weeks hackernews posts

I love how while these comments are from years ago, if they were posted today I wouldn't be able to tell.

The itt we are Hacker News on 4chan was good for a laugh if you don’t mind taking a shower immediately after

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