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Show HN: HN Notify.xyz – Subscribe to Your HN Replies (hnnotify.xyz)
44 points by jermaustin1 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments

At this point it feels like notifications for reply activity should be a default feature of HN.

Not having notifications causes abrupt ends of discussions because the author didn't realize a reply was posted.

Reply notifications furthers the goal of HN as a discussion forum.

Nah, I think that it's important that people don't get to invested into their comments. That's how flamewars keep going.

I care mostly about the general conversation here than that one comment I made yesterday afternoon

I'm the other way. I don't trust the users here to be real or not vote manip. Top comments are most dangerous.

The heart of discussion can be found in the details, not the surface.

I like how it is. I have to actively go to my comments when I feel like it. That means I never end up in the situation that I get some notification where I have to immidiately answer in the heat of the moment.

I wish more of the internet was like this.

Receiving a notification of a reply does not comply you to write one yourself, at least not immediately. Even if this was added as a feature, no one would expect quick replies. As an example we can look to Reddit's comment system.

I know, but it does take my attention when I didn’t ask for it. I wouldn’t complain about notifications as an additional feature, but I don’t see the benefits outwheigh the downsides when it should become a default — especially from a community perspective.

What I want is a "Threads" page that only shows messages to which I haven't had the last word or upvoted/downvoted. That way I could quickly scan and see if there were replies to my previous comments that I hadn't seen yet. Perhaps most of the time those are the ends of the conversations, but right now I have to skim through many comments where I'm waiting on the other person if I want to be sure I'm not missing a comment where the other person is waiting on me.

I bet if someone were to build a tool that showed me all of these threads that I didn't reply or upvote/downvote to a response to one of my comments, I would discover a few gems I missed because I was AFK.

The theory being: if someone took the time to reply to a comment of mine, the least I can do is upvote/downvote their comment.

I use a third party notifier and I very much do not want it to become a default option. I know it makes me more likely to quickly reply to a reply, which is bad for the site if many do it.

But isn’t the quality of discussions a different problem?

It’s related to notifications. The longer a user goes between being presented an opportunity to reply, a) the more time they will have had to think about the topic, b) the more likely they will be to write a complete response, instead of just enough to prompt a further reply, c) the less likely they will be to reply when a reply is not necessary. A good HN thread has fewer, comments (fewer than this one. :) )

I actually wrote a chrome extension which does this AND generates a news feed for the user (of people they follow).

I didn’t release it because it kind of seems counter HN tbh.

I would be okay with this but only if it's turned off by default and I can subscribe to specific threads/replies.

It also avoids unnecessary circular discussions

Just add your email (or a fake one, I don't care, just not one that bounces please), and a username you want to follow the replies for (yours, mine, pg, dang, it doesn't matter, and I don't care!).

This is a complete rewrite of the previous service I built for this. I had started this rewrite over a year ago, but due to family troubles I had to put it on hold.

I wrote the original HNNotify.xyz to once an hour crawl the API for your replies and email you if it found any. This was a terrible approach and led to a lot of issues. But that is how it has been running for well, ever.

This rewrite uses a database I feed with my API crawler. It's a lot more stable, and the query to find replies takes milliseconds instead of minutes.

A service like this already exists: https://hnreplies.com/ and I've been using it for quite some time now - no issues faced till now.

The only difference is that hnnotify.xyz notifies you on comments to your submissions too.

Using this as well. While I like Spolsky in general (see other comment) I'd argue he is off here. It makes me come back to threads instead of forgetting my comments.

I’ve been using HN Replies for years and have nothing to say against it. Clean, only minimal functionality, delivery is prompt—kudos to maintainer.

That's dangrossman[1] and indeed, it's perfect.

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=dangrossman

Beware, since your main div has the "newsletter-subscribe" class, it gets gidden by uBlock Origin and the website is unusable.

Well that's no good. I will have to fix that when I get home this afternoon.

I’ve been using the old version since you first posted it on Show HN over a year (two years?) ago.

Thanks! I especially like the new email formatting.

Thanks buddy. Also thanks for being my beta tester!

In “Building Communities with Software” (2004), Spolsky writes:

“Q. Could you make a feature where I check a box that says “email me if somebody replies to my post?”

A. This one feature, so easy to implement and thus so tempting to programmers, is the best way to kill dead any young forum. Implement this feature and you may never get to critical mass. Philip Greenspun’s LUSENET has this feature and you can watch it sapping the life out of young discussion groups.”


His rationale as to why:

“If you offer the “notify me” checkbox, these people will post their question, check the box, and never come back. They’ll just read the replies in their mailbox. The end. If you eliminate the checkbox, people are left with no choice but to check back every once in a while. And while they’re checking back, they might read another post which looks interesting. And they might have something to contribute to that post.”

Have a browser push notification that truncates the message...so they still get a notification but have to visit to see the full reply.

> the best way to kill dead any young forum

Yet the website that implemented a similar feature (albeit not even opt-in) became the largest community yet history. It's annoying for sure, but the FB notifications system is surely one of the cornerstones of their success in terms of numbers.

I guess they never read Spolsky ...

There is a difference between a social network and "any young forum" for Q&A style posts.

Since it's Show HN it will be nice if there is any technical details provided. So how is it implemented, does it use APIs from HN?

It's an ASP.net core website. I have a 3 droplets powering it $5 for web, $5 for utilities, and a $25 droplet for the HN Api crawler.

My API crawler is an C# console app that just increments the last crawled item until it gets a 404 then sleeps for 60 seconds. I currently have just over 3GB of data from the API.

Are you crawling firebase or algolia?


Than you could crawl up to the maxitem instead of relying on 404


> We will only email you notifications about your HN profile and new features.

AFAIK I should need to have a checkbox for that (IANAL). Is there a working "Unsubscribe" button in the emails? I'm very interested on this, but more interested in keeping my inbox clean-ish

Edit: tone

Every email has an unsubscribe, but you are literally signing up for notifications. If you don't check it, you'd get no notification.

Oh yeah, notifications about new comments are fine (the whole point). I'm curious about new features emails. Once every 6-12 months would be totally fine, weekly updates not really :)

I can tell you. In 2 years of running the previous version of this, i emailed the hundreds of users a total of 0 times.

I will email the old users for the first time later today once I migrate their accounts to the new platform.

HN notify mentioned in another comment has an unsubscribe in the email.

nice! i had this idea in mind for a while but didn't see how to monetize it :) glad someone did it.

> We collect every new submission and comment from Hacker News, and once every 5 minutes or so (assuming I don't break something).

nit - you should decide if your tone is "we" or "I".

edit: another idea would be to add notifications for upvote/downvote you get. it's harder to implement so maybe just when your score changes...

edit2: why downvote? ️

We is my company. I is me, the developer. I realize it might be confusing, I'll have my editor look at it.

This is what I was thinking to build today. Awesome to see it has been built by @jermaustin.nice concept!

It should be an RSS feed.

That's an idea. And cheaper than sending emails.

Testing, testing


Test! Looks like notification emails have a ~10 minute delay and are done in batches.

Hnreplies is faster.... within a minute or two ...

I would prefer it be even slower. I was going to suggest making it configurable per user. I don't want my email blowing up or for it to turn into FB or Discord notifications (i.e., constant).

Would be nice if HNReplies did a daily digest or something.

It's a 5 minute delay. But it can be changed easily.

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