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Ask HN: More tech-oriented HN alternative?
55 points by gtirloni on June 14, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 46 comments
Sometimes I think the amount of political/social/sales submissions is just to great and I would like something more technical to read.

What are your suggestions?

Lobsters is more tightly focused, but has a lot less traffic and submissions.

So depending on what one means by "an HN alternative," maybe that fits. Maybe not.

I bet some folks could also recommend some good Reddits if you list what type tech is your thing. Some Reddits are really good, I just try to stay off the main front page which tends to be all the drama for which Reddit is infamous.

---- Generic Lobsters invite info:


The quickest way to receive an invitation is to talk to someone you recognize from the site or request one in chat.

Chat info: https://lobste.rs/chat

Lobsters has working tagging and filtering system so you may simply filter "culture" out.

I checked our lobste.rs once and waited in chat for sometime to get an invite. But the way they behaved, it seemed like the first few days of the invite based system in Gmail, seeming to maintain exclusivity for the sake of it. Didn’t try wasting my time again.

One option for a more tech-oriented alternative to HN might be to try surfing the “new” page of HN. Quite a lot of tech stuff gets submitted but never makes the front page.

This also gives you a chance to help make the front page more of what you want by upvoting what you like.

Another option is Twitter. It puts the burden on you to do the curation, which is hard at first. But if you get following a good mix of people and accounts, it’s a great way to find new tech content.

I've also found this to be a pattern and made a rendering[0] that orders by time or points independently rather than mixed. I can quickly scan down to around the low double-digits to see deeper stories of interest to fewer readers. Clicking the heading switches views, clicking clock/triangle changes ordering (in some places).

[0] https://hackerer.news

> I can quickly scan down to around the low double-digits to see deeper stories of interest to fewer readers

That sounds cool. Can you give some examples of interesting stories that you found this way, which you wouldn't have found otherwise.

By the very niche nature anything I choose will likely not be of interest to most but many may find something else interesting with similar age and points.

I think you might be underestimating how interested other people would be in those stories, and overestimating how much attention the newest page gets. Many fine submissions never reach the front page. We do a lot to try to mitigate that, but more is needed.

I'm just trying to find a way to increase the s/n ratio to how HN used to be where the front and subsequent pages had so much interesting content not reported elsewhere. Not complaining everything evolves but different people want different things.

> help make the front page more of what you want by upvoting what you like

An increasingly frequent experience on HN is to get into a front page submission, leave a minute later, and see the thing has entirely disappeared from sight, for entirely opaque reasons.

It just happened again with this very AskHN.

Lesson: We can upvote all we like, but unless it's exactly like the stuff that's always on HN, we can't trust HN to honor our votes.

I usually don't agree with comments like this one because I like HN's moderation but I see my submission has 48 points right now and I can't find it either in the frontpage (up to 3rd page) or in the ask section. Crap.

The are a lot of niche subreddits which are very technical. Making an account and only adding those will get you a very tech home page. I am not talking about the mainstream ones like r/programming but more like r/haskell r/idris r/agda r/dependent_types etc (if you like programming; there are similar niche groups for other interests). They are low volume but together they are about the same throughput as HN but only technical.

It will take a while to find all that interests you; some only have posts once a week but are still worth it.

I tend to agree and solved this for myself by building a small, self-hosted service that auto-hides Hacker News stories by title keyword/regex, site, or user. That way you can have more control over auto-curating your Hacker News page, instead of having to invest time in a whole new community. If you have a Raspberry Pi or small VM somewhere, consider giving it a try!


I'll also suggest http://hckrnews.com/ which helped me tremendously.

I always start looking at HN through hckrnews to reduce clutter. But I also check HN directly after this so that I don’t miss something (more so when I’m just generally browsing around).

This looks useful but is very limited on a browser with JavaScript disabled.


This really sounds like a browser extension would be easier to implement.

Yes and no; if it was a browser extension that would limit the functionality to browsers that support extensions, and half of my browsing is done on Safari on iOS. This is the only option that covers my browsing in all cases.

What do you consider 'more technical'?

HN has a decent amount of breadth and depth. I imagine you'd be able to find more depth (read: technical discussion) in listservs, subreddits, slack channels, and some niche forums. For example: https://elixirforum.com/

But as far as breadth, every field can get technical. Person A might consider Physics and Math technical, while person B considers quantitative finance to be technical, while person C considers organic chemistry technical. Heck even farming can get technical[0]. There are few places that have quality posts from diverse backgrounds. Have you tried filtering out stuff you don't want to see on HN?

https://hn.algolia.com/ is a great tool to do that. You can avoid terms using the `-` character see examples here: https://hn.algolia.com/help

[0] Energy Discussions on a Permaculture Forum: https://permies.com/forums/jforum?module=search&action=searc...

I think he means there is too much NYT and WSJ, and not enough cool project or tech hacks.

https://blog.acolyer.org reviews a computer science (scientific) paper each week day and gives decent insight. Not really an alternative to HN, but the comments are usually high standard and often highly technical. As others have said, HN is good for serendipitous discovery of topics you may not have been looking for. However it can sometimes be an echochamber of superficial/similar comments.

Would love to see more tech / entrepreneurial stories. It does seem there are a lot of political/privacy/bigcorp posts compared to back in the day (2009).

Edit: perfect example currently on the front page - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20179511

How is this related to tech or entrepreneurship?

Please read the site guidelines. The first paragraph explains that HN is not just for tech and entrepreneurship ("includes more than hacking and startups").


Re that example, it wasn't a great HN submission because it stokes indignation without teaching us anything new. Indignation is always good for upvotes, but it didn't last long on the front page.

Thanks Daniel! The site guidelines are great. I have read them previously but it seems I had forgotten the details of the relevant section:

“On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.

Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.”

Like most others, I'd step in and say Lobste.rs has fantastic submissions but quite thin in conversation compared to Hacker News, even in highly technical subjects. I suspect that's because you need to ask someone for an invite right now. Maybe they'd be better off just letting your HN account be enough social proof. Or maybe they're happy at that size, how am I to say otherwise?

It's hit and miss, but reddit is kinda nice in that you can subscribe to pretty narrowly focused, well moderated subreddits. I'm only familiar with the case of r/java. You actually get a really weird mix of really low and incredibly high quality posts and discussion. Half of what you get is what I assume are beginner programmers coming out of school or early junior programmers while the other half are \big names\ in Java-land. Like people who work on, design, build and decide what goes into Java 10, 11, 12 etc. I know I'm biased and a bit of an HN snob about it, but that odd mix is part of why I never became a redditor or frequent the technical landscape there.

Highly recommend this one. Has a really tight focus on high quality tech topics only.

I need an invite to this website

Let me know your email address and I can send you an invite

Can I get one too please? jgaphne at gmx dot com

Strong recommendation for https://dev.to/

They have great content and a great community and enough traction that they're not about to disappear.

It probably started as a way to _discuss_ more tech, but ended up being an RSS aggregator for Git hello world posts.

Might be changing a bit over there. I've been sending a lot of Medium authors there. Medium's paywall is a good deal, but not necessarily a fit for everyone. Of the programming oriented sites to publish on, Dev.to has the biggest community and the best community leaders.

That’s a cool site but it feels more like its focus is on learning to program. I personally didn’t find the technical depth I’m interested in when I tried it.

I would recommend https://diff.blog and https://lobste.rs

Yeah, the community/demographic seems like it has changed quite a bit since even a couple years ago. It's so politically charged these days, hardly anything that interests me (and what the fuck is the deal with this Boeing 737 fetish?). Privacy shit, security shit, cryptowankery, JavaScript shit, and the weird "motivational" posts? Seriously, my time wasting has really suffered under these changes.

Forgot to add: sleep shit. What's up with that?

I don't want to sound like a snob (but will go ahead and do so anyway) - there has been a noticeable Redditification of HN over the past year. More so in comments than the submissions. We're not into the puns and meme trains territory just yet, but the shifts to conversational style and vibe are unmistakable.

To actually answer OP's question - Lobste.rs is worth a look. It can be quite technical, if a bit on the dry side. It's public, but accounts are by invite only. That said, if anyone might be able to extend an invite (to myself, OP, or both), that would be much appreciated indeed.

> Please don't submit comments saying that HN is turning into Reddit. It's a semi-noob illusion, as old as the hills.

Source: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

> It's a semi-noob illusion, as old as the hills.

I know the source says that, but wouldn't mind seeing some elaboration on why that is the case. If the `newsguidelines` made a point of mentioning it, there's perhaps some merit to this "illusion".

Send me an email for an invite.

@seo, Sent you a request for a invite to the email id in your profile. Thanks!

There was a time when reddit, HN, digg, etc were all tech oriented. The problem is that once a platform gets slightly popular, journalists, NGOs, PR, foreign actors, think tanks, etc sneak in and push their wares ( sometimes with the help of the forums themselves ). Slashdot might be worth a look but I gave up on them years ago.

The problem is that so much of "tech" forums, magazines, sites, etc are not run by "techies" but agenda driven media people masquerading as "techies". TheVerge, arstechnica, etc being prime examples.

My advice is to browse the "new" section of HN for the interesting tech/science/hack stuff. But unfortunately, most of the interesting stuff has no traffic or discussion. But maybe that's a good thing.

HN has never been "all tech oriented".

I didn't say HN was "all tech oriented". Please stop misquoting me. I said "There was a time when reddit, HN, digg, etc were all tech oriented. Meaning "HN was tech oriented", "reddit was tech oriented", "digg was tech oriented", etc.

I didn't say HN was all tech. My point was that HN was tech oriented like reddit, digg, etc.

Ah, I see that I misbound that pesky "all". Sorry! But the point is more or less the same. Actually, let me reply to all your points.

HN isn't less tech-oriented now than it used to be. The mix of topics fluctuates, but within a stable range which has been about the same since pg renamed Startup News to Hacker News 12 years ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/hackernews.html. That announcement is where this language originated: "That includes a lot more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity." Anyone who's read the HN guidelines should recognize that.

We've put a ton of effort into countering wares-pushing. If you think you see a story that is only on HN's front page because "journalists, NGOs, PR, foreign actors, think tanks, etc" are sneaking it in, you should let us know right away at hn@ycombinator.com.

I don't know if we count as "techies" in your book but if there's one thing I'm sure we're not, it's "agenda driven media people".

If "most of the interesting stuff has no traction or discussion", you could help out a lot by upvoting it. That's at least an easier problem to solve than interesting things not getting submitted in the first place.

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